Both opening day matches in Group A of the 2016 Olympic men’s football tournament ended with no goals scored to the dismay of 18,000 spectators in attendance.
Iraq and Denmark failed to find the back of the net at Mané Garrincha on Thursday. Host team Brazil settled for a scoreless draw against South Africa with over 69,000 fans watching.
All four teams are currently tied in the group standings with one point apiece. Notching a win this weekend would dramatically improve their chances of moving on to the next phase of the tournament.
Denmark will take on South Africa at Mané Garrincha on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET. Brazil will then battle Iraq later that evening at 9 p.m. ET. Neymar fans in the US can watch their hero in action on NBC Olympics and NBC Sports Live Extra.
The Selecao side seek redemption after they were booed off their home turf following their goalless affair with South Africa. Neymar took the bulk of Brazil’s 20 shots in that match. He was responsible for 5 of his team’s 7 shots on goal. It’s the end result that matters and Neymar just didn’t have enough bounce to lead Brazil past Bafana Bafana.
“Inexplicably, Brazil did everything contrary to what they rehearsed and preached for 17 days [in preparation],” Rio newspaper O Globo reported, via Daily Nation. “Neymar was missing too.”
Despite Brazil’s storied success in the sport of football, the team has yet to win gold in the Olympics. Neymar was specifically chosen to guide the team to the one gold medal that matters most for his country.
Brazil currently sits at the ninth spot on FIFA’s World Ranking. Meanwhile, Iraq barely squeaked in the top 100. Sunday’s debacle with Brazil will be a gauge match for Iraq coach Abdulghani Alghazali and the rest of the Usood Al-Rafidain, aka Lions of Mesopotamia.
“For us it is an honor to be here,” Alghazali shared to Saudi Gazette. “In Brazil, we have earned the sympathy of the local people. Our next game, against them, will be very important for us.”