Host nation Brazil must play big or go home Wednesday when its men’s soccer team takes on Denmark -- for the country scarred by a 2014 World Cup debacle is facing another possible embarrassing elimination at home.
The team has had two deeply disappointing scoreless draws in this Olympic tournament -- to South Africa and Iraq, not exactly world soccer powerhouses -- and fans have been booing and mocking the team, especially superstar Neymar.
Brazil coach Rogerio Micale has leapt to the defense of his misfiring 24-year-old star striker, who has been criticized for poor performances and a lack of leadership.
The coach says “Neymar will become the best player in the world, we need to respect him ... He is young. I know that at times he behaves in a way that we may not like, but at his age, wouldn’t we do the same things that he does?”
Micale said the criticism could hurt future generations of Brazilian players who dream of being on the national soccer team.