Brazil coach Carlos Dunga has to refocus his demoralised players and try to take a bronze medal out of the wreckage of their failed Beijing Olympics football campaign against Belgium in Shanghai on Friday.
It's not what the five-time FIFA World Cup™ champion nation was hoping for in Beijing, as their dream of an elusive gold medal was shattered by fierce South American rivals Argentina 3-0 in Tuesday's semi-finals.
The Brazilians even have to contend with their country's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva reportedly in a 'rage' over the national team's failure against Argentina. "Losing the game to Argentina in this way is really shameful," the president said, according to local media.
Dunga is being singled out in the bitter recriminations, with Brazilian newspapers calling for his dismissal. Expectations are always intolerably high in Brazil, demanding football success at every tournament, and the Olympic U-23 team's surrender to Argentina has the team in Beijing ducking for cover from the flak.
"We will try to find motivation for our next match. That's my role as captain," Brazil's former two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Ronaldinho said on Thursday. "It's difficult because our goal was to win the gold medal."
Defender Alex Silva was looking at the bronze medal game as part of the Olympic ideal, rather than a meaningless playoff match for the losing semi-finalists. "We have to stay united, because a classic rivalry is always decided on details," Silva said. "We trust each other and now we have to search for our motivation because that's the way the Olympics are. I had a wonderful experience at the Olympic Village seeing how happy other athletes were to win a bronze medal, and we want to feel the same."
Olympic football has been a frustrating arena for Brazil over the years for a nation so accustomed to being regarded as setting the standard at international level. Brazil have lost two Olympic finals, to France in 1984 and the former Soviet Union four years later, and also went down in semi-finals to Poland in 1976 and Nigeria in 1996.
Belgium, who shocked European power Italy in the quarter-finals to reach the semis, won the gold medal at the 1920 Antwerp Games. The Belgians, like Brazil, are downcast after their 4-1 loss to Nigeria in Shanghai last Tuesday. "The disappointment is so great that we have no strength to even think of the bronze medal," defender Jeroen Simaeys said after the defeat.