Argentina has successfully defended its Olympic football (soccer) gold
medal with a 1-0 victory over Nigeria. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer
was at Saturday's match in Beijing's and has a report.
90,000 fans filled the National Stadium on a day where the heat was
almost as big a story as the game. The kickoff was at noon local time,
and under bright sunshine, the temperature reached 42 degrees Celsius
on the field.
That made football's world governing body (FIFA),
in consultation with medical officials, decide to have short breaks
about midway through each half to allow the players to go to the
sidelines to drink liquids to prevent dehydration.
The lone goal
of the match came in the 58th minute. Angel di Maria controlled a
well-timed through ball from Lionel Messi and deftly chipped the ball
over the head of the Nigerian goalkeeper Ambruse Vanzekin.
Argentine coach Sergio Batisa, through an interpreter, said they had a game plan for the conditions.
was a difficult game," he said. "We knew that up front. Nigeria from
midfield up front had very good players. So we tried to make sure that
we did not get up tight, and just play our own game. We wanted to play
intelligently, move the ball around. We didn't want to run as much.
We wanted the ball to do the work."
Nigerian coach Samson Siasia
said because all of the other Olympic games were played late in the day
or under floodlights at night, the final should have been also.
think it actually affected both countries," said Siasia. "I'm guessing
most players did not actually perform to their level because of the
heat, and you got tired in a little bit of time. But we didn't' make
the rules. They decided to play the game at 12 o'clock, which I don't
think was a good idea."
Brazil, which has yet to win an Olympic
football gold medal, had won the bronze medal by beating Belgium on
Friday in Shanghai, 3-0.
Attendance at the football matches
broke an Olympic record, with 2.14 million - 1.4 million for the men's
games and 740,000 for the women's games.