LONDON (AP) — Brazilians looked dejected with the silver medals around their necks after the men's Olympic football final. They recognized it as a huge defeat.
Not only did Brazil miss winning its first gold in football, but its 2-1 loss to Mexico on Saturday also raised doubts about the future of the national team just two years ahead of the World Cup it will host.
The players acknowledged the defeat was a blow to their morale, but remained confident they'll get over it quickly.
Coach Mano Menezes said the team's preparations will stay on track, although his job is not secure after Brazil's failure despite being the heavy favorite to win the competition.
"One loss should not play too big of a role in our future," Menezes said. "Just like one victory shouldn't either. If we had won the final it wouldn't have solved all of our problems. These players matured during this competition and that's not going to be wasted because of the loss. They will take that with them and it's going to help them when they play in the World Cup."
Menezes may not be the one leading them by then, as the Brazilian football federation still hasn't said that it will keep him. The federation hinted before the competition that a disappointing result at the Olympics could cost Menezes' job, but a decision is not expected until the team returns to Brazil later this week.
The Olympic tournament was seen as a big test for Brazil's young team. Most of its top players made the tournament's under-23 age limit and had the chance to show fans back home that they can be capable of leading the senior team at the World Cup in two years.
Captain Thiago Silva, one of the three players older than 23, said a victory would have helped improve the team's confidence, but the defeat shouldn't be seen as a sign that everything is wrong with the team that came to London.
"It's not the end of the world," he said. "We learned many lessons just by being here and we showed our potential by reaching the final."