Despite having a star-filled attack that includes Neymar, Felipe Anderson, Gabriel Jesus and Gabriel Barbosa, Brazil could not find the back of the net against South Africa in their opening men's football Group A match at the Rio Olympics 2016.
Tipped to win the gold medal for the first time in their history, Brazil showed their nerves in front of the home crowd, and despite receiving a fair few presentable opportunities – one of them a sitter missed by new Manchester City signings Gabriel Jesus – the highly-fancied side drew blanks against South Africa, with the match ending up in a 0-0 draw, and that too after Mothobi Mvala was sent off for a second bookable offence just before the hour mark.
Group A seemed to be cursed with a lack of goals on the opening day of men's football in the Rio Olympics 2016, as the other match – between Iraq and Denmark – also finished goalless, leaving all four teams tied on a point each with two matches each to play.
It would be a disaster, and then some, if Brazil were not to qualify for the knockout rounds from this relatively easy group, particularly considering Barcelona superstar Neymar was held back from the Copa America Centenario in order to participate in the home Olympics.
Goals were not a problem in Group B, as Sweden and Colombia played out an entertaining 2-2 draw, while Nigeria edged Japan 5-4 in a thriller.
Teofilo Gutierrez opened the scoring for Colombia in the first match of Group B, on 17 minutes, but Mikael Ishak levelled the game at 1-1 a couple of minutes before halftime. Astrit Ajdarevic then put Sweden in the lead just past the hour, but Colombia made sure of a point courtesy a 75th minute strike from Dorlan Pabon.
That match merely proved to be the appetizer to the Group B main course, with Nigeria and Japan putting on a goalscoring show, led by Oghenekaro Etebo, who ended up with four.
Four goals also came in the first 12 minutes of the match, two each from Nigeria and Japan, with the four strikes from Etebo proving to be the difference in the end. There was something to cheer for Arsenal fans, however, as new summer signing Takuma Asano netted for Japan in the 70th minute, even if it was not enough for Japan to avoid defeat.
Group C also saw an Arsenal player – Serge Gnabry – netting, with Matthias Ginter of Borussia Dortmund also needing to be on point as Germany came back from a goal down twice to draw with the defending gold medallists Mexico, who scored through Oribe Peralta and Rodolfo Pizarro.
The second match of the group was a no-contest as South Korea pummeled Fiji 8-0.
Group D saw Honduras get the better of Algeria 3-2, while Portugal saw off a challenge from Argentina, thanks to second half goals from Pacienca and Pite.