Brazil 4, Ghana 2
TOM FOREMAN JR.
Jul. 29, 1996
MIAMI (AP) _ Despite four World Cup titles, Brazilian soccer is still trying to fill a void.
Brazil moved closer to its first Olympic soccer gold medal Sunday, scoring three second-half goals for a 4-2 victory over Ghana.
The win moves Brazil's 23-and-under team into a rematch against Nigeria in the semifinals. The Nigerians beat Mexico 2-0 in Birmingham, Ala.
In the first meeting, Brazil beat Nigeria 1-0.
``We like that,'' Brazilian coach Mario Zagallo said of the four world championships. ``But we are looking for a thing that we've never achieved _ a gold medal in the Olympic Games. That means a lot to us. It's like another World Cup title.''
Brazil was tested by the speedy and skillful Ghana players, dubbed the ``Black Meteors'' at the 1992 Barcelona Games. But the Brazilians broke a 2-2 tie in the 62nd minute on Ronaldinho's second goal, and Bebeto added the clincher 10 minutes later.
Playing before a crowd of 45,257 mostly partisan fans, Brazil started out disorganized, with players yelling at each other early on.
A freak goal gave Brazil a 1-0 lead. Rivaldo attempted to control a pass inside the penalty box, but lost the ball off his chest. With the ball rolling free, Afo Duodu kicked the ball into his own goal in the 17th minute.
Ghana tied the game six minutes later on an indirect free kick, Charles Akunnor's low twisting liner caromed off the right post and into the net behind Brazilian goalkeeper Dida.
In the second half, Ghana took a 2-1 lead in the 53rd minute as Felix Aboagye headed in a cross from Akunnor. Some of Ghana's players felt the team had no focus after taking its that lead.
``We thought that we could keep our tempo,'' Akunnor said. ``After you go ahead, you don't want to quit doing what you were doing. But we had a lack of concentration at the end and that's why we lost.''
Zagallo suggested that his team was in the opposite position.
``After Ghana got the second goal, we woke up,'' Zagallo said. ``After that, we played the good football we're used to.''
Brazil came back three minutes later, taking advantage of a mental lapse by the Ghanans following a foul. Ronaldinho dribbled toward the goal as Ghana's players stood around and scored from close in.
Ronaldinho scored his second goal to give Brazil the lead 3-2. He took a pass from Bebeto on the left side and dribbled toward the end line. Ghana goalkeeper Simon Addo went to his right to challenge, but Ronaldinho chipped the ball over the goalie and got it to curl into the net after it rolled on the goal line.
``I think the national team was pushed by pride,'' Zagallo said.
Bebeto, one of three overage players added to the team by Olympic rules, added the clinching goal, getting off a shot near the end line and taking a tough angle to put the ball in the net.
``That one is for a genius,'' Ghana coach Samuel Arday said of Bebeto's goal. ``We all work toward what we call the shooting angle. If somebody should score outside the shooting angle, then he possesses something which other players don't.''
Security was tight around the perimeter of the 74,000-seat Orange Bowl. Mounted policemen watched as security guards searched each bag being carried in. Brazilian fans got themselves in the mood as many of them painted their hair and faces in the country's colors of yellow, blue and green. One man captured the eye of photographers with his green-and-gold Tina Turner-style wig.