Brazil going after gold
The only major silverware missing from Brazil's glittering cabinet is an Olympic gold. The five-time world champions came close to winning it last time around, but in the end they had to be satisfied with a silver medal after losing to Mexico in the final.
This time around, following the senior team's humiliating World Cup elimination and failure in back-to-back Copa Americas, there were those who doubted the team's prospects in these games, even with Neymar as team captain and rising stars like Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Barbosa, Marquinhos, Rafinha and Felipe Anderson in the side.
Those doubts only became stronger after the hosts' goalless draws in their first two games against South Africa and Iraq. The team was jeered off the pitch and Neymar was subject to heavy criticism, as crowds taunted him with the chant: "Ole, Ole. Marta, Marta."
However the Selecao have turned things around since then, putting four past Denmark in their last group match before getting the better of Colombia with a 2-0 victory in the quarterfinal.
The team's coach, Rogerio Micale, believes his team has proven the doubters wrong.
"Unfortunately football is about immediate results. Since those criticisms, we have had two good results and now we are in the semis. I think most of the criticism was ridiculous," Micale said at a press conference on Monday.
Now with Honduras to face in the semifinal, which will take place at the Maracana today at 10:00pm (Bangladesh time) before the second semifinal between Germany and Nigeria, the bets will surely be on Brazil to make it to the final, if not win the title.
"We are going after gold. We have been building the strength that we have and we are arriving at our goal," the 47-year-old coach, who has a vast experience of working with youth teams across Brazil, said ahead of the semifinal.
After some lackluster performances in the first few matches, Neymar came into his own, scoring against Colombia in the quarterfinal. The coach believes Neymar has come of age off the pitch too.
"Neymar a very young athlete and he has a big responsibility because of his quality. He has shown a lot of maturity, and he is learning from his mistakes. He is doing things the right way," said the coach, who also reserved high praise for young Palmeiras forward Gabriel Jesus, earmarking him as one for the future.
The Brazil under-23 coach, who is open to working with senior team coach Tite, feels that no matter what they achieve in these Olympics, the team needs to be given time to rebuild.
"Brazil football is going through a rebuilding process. If we win, everything is fine but if we lose, people will start building everything from the scratch again. It's like you're building a house and in the middle of the process, you destroy it and start rebuilding again. Germany spent 12 years building it and they are reaping the benefits. That's how to do it," the coach opined.