Brasilia: Barcelona forward Neymar will captain Brazil at the Rio 2016 Olympic football tournament, the team’s head coach said on Friday.
The 24-year-old has led Brazil’s senior national team for the past two years but there was speculation he might be stripped of the skipper’s armband in Rio. Brazil coach Rogerio Micale said Neymar had “exceeded his expectations” after meeting him for the first time this week.
“In relation to the captain, it’s going to be Neymar,” Micale told a press conference in Gioania on Friday.
“He has exceeded my expectations in relation to his quality. He changes direction so quickly. In one-on-one he is in a different world. Within the group he is loved by everybody. A good guy, with a big heart in relation to his teammates, especially the younger ones.”
Neymar has been widely lambasted in Brazil for regularly posting images of himself partying and posing with other celebrities on social media. His recent performances for Brazil have also been questioned, having received five red cards for ill-discipline in the past 18 months.
Neymar is one of three players over the age of 23 in Brazil’s squad, as per International Olympic Committee rules. The others are Beijing Guoan midfielder Renato Augusto and Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass. Brazil, who are bidding for their first Olympic football gold medal, will fine-tune their tournament preparations with a friendly against Japan in Goiania on Saturday.