Teresopolis (Brazil), July 19 (IANS) FC Barcelona star Neymar and the other members of the Brazilian men’s football team began gathering here to prepare for the Olympics starting in Rio de Janeiro from August 5.
The 2016 Games present a great opportunity for a Brazilian side fallen on hard times to redeem themselves in the eyes of their football-mad compatriots, reports Efe.
The most recent of Brazil’s record five World Cup triumphs was in 2002 and their poor showing last month in the Copa America tourney led to the firing of coach Dunga.
Olympic gold is the one major international honour missing for Brazil and new coach Rogerio Micale seems optimistic of filling that void.
Besides forward Neymar, Micale can rely on 19-year-old phenomenon Gabriel Jesus, who leads the Brazilian first division in scoring.
Since leaving Brazil for Spain in 2013, Neymar, now 24, has become one of the dominant figures in international football and is Barcelona’s second-highest paid player after Argentine icon Lionel Messi.
Neymar wanted to participate in both the Copa America and the Olympics, but Barcelona management was unwilling to risk one of their stars getting worn out ahead of the 2016-2017 La Liga season.
Forced to choose, Neymar opted for the Olympics.