Brazil starting goalkeeper Fernando Prass fractures elbow, out for Olympics
SAO PAULO (AP) — 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 replaced Prass with 28-year-old Weverton, from Brazilian club Atletico Paranaense.
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 warmup.
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 use the more experienced Weverton as a starter at the Olympic tournament.
Weverton was not in Micale's preliminary list sent to FIFA. The other goalkeepers he had picked 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.