By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – The Andes’ high altitude once again proved to be too much for the Brazilian soccer team as the team succumbed 2-1 to Bolivia on Saturday in the World Cup 2010 Qualifiers.
The game was held at the Hernando Siles Stadium in La Paz, the world’s highest capital, sitting 3,600 meters above sea level. Coach Dunga blamed the bad result on the altitude: “Playing up here is not easy without acclimatization,” he said.
The teams’ situation in the competition couldn’t have been more uneven. Brazil is in first place, and has already claimed a berth for South Africa 2010, while Bolivia is in second-to-last position, without a chance of qualifying. In addition to that, the last time Brazil had lost a match was in June 2008, so a Brazilian victory was widely expected.
As soon as the match started, it was clear that the altitude favored the local team. Bolivia opened up the score after just ten minutes of ballplay, when Edgar Olivares scored with a header from a corner kick.
After that, Brazil reacted, and had some chances of scoring the equalizer. Nilmar and Adriano gave the Bolivians a hard time, but none of these goal attempts proved successful.
In spite of the Brazilian pressure, by the thirtieth minute Bolivia had extended the lead. Marcelo Moreno took a free kick just outside the goalbox and goalkeeper Julio César failed to even jump in the direction of the ball.
After the second Bolivian goal, Brazil kept pressing, but failed to find the net. Striker Adriano injured his ankle in a rough landing after a ball dispute in midair and was replaced by Diego Tardelli.
In the second half, neither of the teams presented much danger to the other until the 25th minute, when Nilmar scored. The Brazilian striker received a cross from Maicon, and headed into the net.
In the last twenty minutes of play, Brazil searched desperately for the equalizer but Bolivia managed to hold back their challenges. The final score was 2-1.
The poor result did not affect Brazil’s position in the ranking chart however. Although Paraguay also has 33 points, Brazil is on top on goal difference.
Brazil’s next match will be at home against Venezuela on Wednesday, October 14. It will be the team’s last game in the Qualifiers, and it will be held at the Morenão Stadium, in Campo Grande, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.