Rio de Janeiro | Crisis-hit Argentine football suffered another blow when they were dumped out of the Olympics at the group stages by Honduras, whilst 2012 gold medallists Mexico were also sent packing.
Freiburg striker Nils Petersen scored five times as world champions Germany smashed Pacific islanders Fiji 10-0 to seal their place in the last eight behind South Korea, who beat Mexico 1-0 thanks to Kwon Chang-hoon’s stunning strike in Brasilia.
Argentina needed to win to secure a place in the quarters due to their inferior goal difference with the Hondurans after both had lost to Portugal and beat Algeria in their opening two group matches. However, the Central Americans sprung a huge surprise as Antony Lorenzo’s penalty 15 minutes from time put them in front in Brasilia and, despite Mauricio Martinez’s equaliser deep into stoppage time, Argentina bowed out in embarrassing fashion.
Portugal secured top spot in Group D with a 1-1 draw against Algeria in Belo Horizonte. The Albiceleste’s chances were severely hampered by chaotic preparation for the Games.
Coach Julio Olarticoechea, who had been coaching the Argentine women’s team, was put in charge just weeks before the tournament began after Gerardo Martino resigned citing power squabbles at the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and clubs not releasing players for the Olympics. Martino’s resignation also came after losing a second Copa America final to Chile in as many years in June which provoked a tearful Lionel Messi to announce his retirement from international football. New coach of the Argentina senior team Edgardo Bauza arrived in Barcelona on Tuesday on a mission to convince five-time World Player of the Year Messi to reverse his decision. After Martino’s coaching staff also resigned, Olarticoechea was the only coach still contracted to AFA. The country’s president Mauricio Macri has slammed corruption and bad management at the federation, which is paralysed by a squabble over broadcasting rights. We cannot carry on with a system full of bad habits and corruption, said Macri, himself a former football executive.
Argentinean courts last month started auditing AFA’s accounts to determine how it used its state funding over recent years. Legendary former player Diego Maradona branded AFA’s management a mafia, pointing the finger at its late president Julio Grondona. We still have the same Grondona mafia, said the 1986 World Cup winner last month. I want an audit. I want a clean and transparent AFA. Argentina’s conquerors in the 2014 World Cup final Germany remain on course for another Brazilian party at the Maracana on August 20 as they brushed aside the hapless Fijians in Belo Horizonte.
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