Caracas, Feb 11 (EFE).- Brazil’s hopes of securing their third consecutive gold Olympics in men’s football were dashed on Sunday after a 0-1 defeat to Argentina in the South American qualifying tournament in Caracas.
Soon after Argentina qualified for the Paris Olympics with their win, Paraguay beat Venezuela 2-0 to claim the second ticket from the South American region.
With the win, Paraguay emerged as the champions of the South American U-23 Championship, the tournament considered the qualifier for the Summer Olympics, with two spots up for grabs.
Brazil, the gold medalists in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, needed only a draw against arch-rivals Argentina to secure their berth in Paris 2024.
But Luciano Gondou’s 78th-minute strike from a cross by Valentin Barco sent Brazil packing, raising Argentina’s chances to claim their third gold after 2004 and 2008, with the last one starring Lionel Messi.
Unlike the qualifying tournament, which was restricted to Under-23 players, three overage players will be allowed in the main draw, meaning Messi now has a chance to feature in Paris should he be selected by the country.
Midfielder Diego Gomez converted a penalty in the 48th minute, and forward Marcelo Perez added the second in the 75th minute for a comfortable win for Paraguay, who would return to the Summer Olympics after 20 years.
Paraguay last appeared in the Olympics’ men’s football in Athens in 2004, when they claimed the silver medal behind Argentina.
The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will take place between Jul. 26 and Aug. 11. EFE