Neymar (Getty Images)
Sao Paulo - Brazil's hopes of winning its first Olympic gold medal
in soccer took a hit Sunday when starting goalkeeper Fernando Prass was removed
from the squad because of a right elbow injury.
The Brazilian soccer confederation said Prass will not play in the
tournament after tests showed a fracture in the goalkeeper's elbow.
Coach Rogerio Micale has not yet announced his replacement.
Prass missed a couple of practice sessions last week after hurting
his elbow on Monday. He appeared to have recovered and was expected to play in
the team's friendly match against Japan on Saturday but was ruled out after
re-injuring the elbow in a pre-game warm-up.
The 38-year-old Palmeiras goalkeeper was one of the selected
players older than age 23, along with star striker Neymar and midfielder Renato
Augusto. Neymar is Brazil's captain at the Rio Games after missing the decisive
stages of the World Cup at home two years ago because of a back injury.
Prass had never been called up for the national team before.
"I gave my best to make my dream of playing for the national
team come true, but unfortunately it's not going to happen this time,"
Prass said on Twitter after undergoing the medical tests on Saturday.
"I'll recover and return even stronger to play for Palmeiras and hopefully
for the national team again."
The Brazilian squad is under pressure to win the tournament in
front of home fans. The gold medal is the only trophy the five-time world
champions haven't won in soccer.
Prass' substitute in the 2-0 win over Japan on Saturday was
Uilson, a 22-year-old who is a reserve at Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, but
Micale is expected to pick a more experienced player for the Olympic
The other goalkeepers included in Micale's preliminary list sent
to FIFA were Alisson of Roma, Jordi of Vasco da Gama and Jean of Bahia.
Brazil won Olympic silver three times, including in London four
years ago after a team led by Neymar lost the final to Mexico. It finished with
the bronze twice.
The team's first match is against South Africa on Thursday in the
capital of Brasilia. Iraq and Denmark are the other two teams in Group A.
The men's Olympic tournament is played with 16 teams, and the top
two in each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals.