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Tuesday , September 28 2021

Germany, Brazil face off in soccer final

Nigeria’s Abdullahi Shehu (left), and Germany’s Maximilian Meyer vie for the ball during a semifinal match of the men’s Olympic football tournament between Germany and Nigeria in Sao Paulo, on Aug 17. (AP)
Nigeria’s Abdullahi Shehu (left), and Germany’s Maximilian Meyer vie for the ball during a semifinal match of the men’s Olympic football tournament between Germany and Nigeria in Sao Paulo, on Aug 17. (AP)

SAO PAULO, Aug 18, (Agencies): Lukas Klosertmann and Nils Peterson scored to send Germany into the Olympic gold-medal match for the first time with a 2-0 semifinal victory over Nigeria on Wednesday. The Germans will play Brazil on Saturday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The stadium was the site of the country’s World Cup victory in 2014, a few days after the German senior team embarrassed Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. Brazil defeated Honduras 6-0 earlier in the day at the Maracana to put the hosts in the final.

Neymar scored a pair of goals. “Is there anything more beautiful than playing an Olympic final at Maracana against Brazil? It is amazing, fabulous,” Germany coach Horst Hrubesch said.

Nigeria will face Honduras in the bronze-medal match on Saturday in Belo Horizonte. Klostermann scored in the ninth minute off a cross from captain Maximillian Meyer, beating fallen Nigeria goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel.

Nigeria’s Jon Obi Mikel had a good chance in the 31st minute but was off the mark. Mikel, who plays for Chelsea, is one of the three senior players that Nigeria added to the Olympic roster.

The men’s tournament is played among under-23 teams. Peterson charged in and directed Davie Selke’s cross into the far corner in the 89th minute. It was Peterson’s sixth goal of the tournament.

Meanwhile, brazil Olympic coach Rogerio Micale described star forward Neymar as a “monster” who is too often criticised after inspiring the hosts into Saturday’s gold medal match with thrashing of Honduras on Wednesday. Neymar scored twice, including the fastest goal in Olympic history after just 15 seconds, as Brazil delighted a near capacity 78,000 crowd at Rio’s iconic Maracana to move to within one win of delivering a first ever football gold medal. “Neymar is a monster. He has the gift of playing football, he delights everyone with his talent,” said Micale. The sight of Neymar whipping up the crowd, whilst dancing with his shirt off at full-time completed a remarkable turnaround from the fierce criticism he received with Brazil on the verge of an embarrassing early exit a week ago.

Having drawn 0-0 against South Africa and Iraq in their opening two games, Brazil needed to beat Denmark in their final group game to ensure progress to the last eight. However, three straight wins and 12 goals scored without reply has restored Neymar’s reputation as Brazil’s golden boy. “Neymar has a lot of pressure on him.

Right now he is enjoying a good moment, but a week ago he was suffering a difficult time with a lot of critics. “He is the difference-maker in our group in the good sense. “Neymar deserves our gratitude because he pushes Brazil to a higher level.” The Barcelona star hasn’t forgotten the criticism he received, though, as he swerved the media after the match, drawing pantomime boos from local journalists. Meanwhile, a new nation will be crowned Olympic women’s football champions in Friday’s final as Sweden take on Germany at Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium.

However, there will be one two-time gold medallist present as Sweden coach Pia Sundhage goes for a third straight gold after leading the United States to victory in Beijing and London. The normally understated Sundhage admits she has had to sacrifice her attacking philosophy to land her native Sweden’s first ever women’s Olympic football medal, but that the hardships in doing so has made her Rio journey even more rewarding than gold was with a dominant American team. “Emotionally I am thrilled. It is incredible Sweden are in the final,” said Sundhage. “I have been in China and London Olympic finals with a team everyone expected to do well. The road we have taken has been a wonderful trip with one or two upsets.”

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