Brazil captain Neymar admitted that his side’s 0-0 draw with South Africa in their opening Olympics clash on Thursday felt like a defeat.
The host nation dominated for large spells in Brasilia, but were unable to find a way past Itumeleng Khune in the South Africa goal, even after they were reduced to 10 men when Mothobi Mvala was sent off following a second booking.
Neymar insists Brazil never expected their challenge for the gold medal to be straightforward, but conceded that the result will be a difficult one to forget.
“We knew it wouldn’t be a case of coming here and bringing home the gold,” he said after the match.
“For us, the draw is a defeat. The team played to win, but we know our responsibility. We’ll face more difficulties yet.
“We need to know how to overcome things but we’ll stay calm and make things right as soon as possible so we can have a good game on Sunday [against Iraq].
“The first match is always the hardest because of the anxiety that marks the start of a competition, and I think that anxiety hurt us a little in the end.”
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