Although the opening ceremony of the 5th Military World Games begins on Saturday July 16th at the Joao Havelange Stadium, also known as Engenhão, men’s soccer competition commenced on Friday. Hosts Brazil, along with Ecuador and Trinidad and Tobago all opened with wins.
The games kicked off in the San Gennaro stadium, in Rio de Janeiro, for the match between Brazil and Algeria. For the ceremonial kick-off, the organizing committee invited famed striker Romario, world champion with the Brazilian national team at the 1994 FIFA World Cup in the United States.
“Baixinho”, who’s now a congressman, spurred on the hosts as striker Renildo Gomes, who wears the same #11 jersey that Romario once did, scored the lone goal just before half time.
“He talked to us in the locker room, talked to the players and gave strength to the team. Romario is Romario. Wearing the #11 is a great responsibility. The goal was in his style.”
About 1,500 people were in attendance for the opening match.
With Friday’s result, Brazil is currently in second in Group A. Suriname, who beat Uruguay 2-1, is in first due to goal differential.
Another South American team that won their opening match was Ecuador. With two goals by Nixon Aguirre and a third by Paul Guerrero, Ecuador defeated France 3-2.
Ecuador currently stands in second in group B, behind Egypt, on goal differential. In group C, Trinidad and Tobago beat Cameroon 2-1.
Soccer will be played by men and women and is the longest competition, so long that it starts even before the opening of the Games. There are no changes to the rules. There are eleven athletes on each side, and they follow the same system used for World Cup soccer games.