Argentina and Mexico out in soccer; Brazil survives
Salvador, Brazil — There won’t be a third soccer gold for Argentina. Nor a second for defending champion Mexico.
The traditional powers were eliminated from the men’s Olympic tournament, dealing another blow to Argentine soccer following the senior team’s loss in the Copa America final in June and the ongoing crisis enveloping the sport at home.
Playing without any of its stars from the senior team, Argentina needed to win to reach the knockout round.
But the South American power, which has won two Olympic gold medals in soccer, ended pool play with a 1-1 draw with Honduras.
Honduras and Argentina finished with four points apiece, but Honduras had the edge on goal differential. Portugal won Group D.
The Brazilian crowd at the Mane Garrincha Stadium, disappointed by its country’s two draws at the stadium earlier in the tournament, loudly celebrated the elimination of its South American rival. They then celebrated even more when their team defeated Denmark, 4-0, to reach the quarterfinals and avoided another huge embarrassment at home following the World Cup two years ago.
Argentina won the Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004 and in Beijing in 2008, the last time with a squad that included Lionel Messi. It did not play in 2012 and was not considered among the favorites in Rio.
This latest loss underscored the problems of Argentina soccer.
The country’s federation is in financial chaos, and the Olympic team was left without a coach when Gerardo Martino resigned a month before the Rio Games. That left successor Julio Olarticoechea with little time to prepare a team led by youngsters Jonathan Calleri and Correa.
There was even the possibility the nation would skip the tournament because of the turmoil. The loss in the Copa America final prompted a startling announcement by Messi he was retiring from the national squad.
Mexico, which upset Brazil in the final of the 2012 London Games, failed to advance after a 1-0 loss to South Korea. The Mexicans needed a victory to reach the quarterfinals.