Having clinched the Olympic gold in Rio 2016 and the Covid-delayed 2020 Tokyo Games, Brazil only required a draw against their perennial continental rivals on the last day of the South American pre-Olympic tournament in Venezuela.
However, it was Argentina who emerged victorious, earning the ticket to France and aiming for their third title after triumphs in 2004 and 2008, courtesy of Luciano Gondou’s goal in the second half in Caracas.
Meanwhile, Paraguay secured the other qualification spot for Paris 2024 from South America with a 2-0 win over Venezuela.
Midfielder Diego Gomez converted a penalty in the 48th minute, and forward Marcelo Perez added another goal in the 75th minute for Carlos Jara Saguier’s Paraguay, who topped the qualifying tournament standings ahead of Argentina.
The tournament featured under-23 players exclusively, unlike the Olympics where teams can include three overage players.
Now, Argentina are set to make efforts to convince a very special 36-year-old player, Lionel Messi, who played a pivotal role in the 2008 Olympic gold-winning campaign, to join them in Paris.
“Everyone knows my relationship with Leo… and the doors are open for him to join us,” said coach Javier Mascherano, a long-time former team-mate of Messi’s with Argentina.
“It’s up to him.”
(With AFP inputs)