Argentina’s Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008 seem like a distant memory now since Julio Olarticoechea’s under-prepared 2016 squad fell at the first hurdle in Brasilia after a 1-1 draw with Honduras left them third in Group D.
La Albiceleste had to win to ensure second place in the group and although some may point to Ángel Correa’s second half penalty miss as a reason for their failure, the truth is that Argentina have been poor throughout.
The misfiring Jonathan Calleri spurned Argentina’s best chance in the first half but it was Honduras that should have led at the break.
Gerónimo Rulli saved Antony Lozano’s firmly struck penalty to provide Argentina with a massive boost ahead of half time and it looked as though it might be a turning point.
Shortly after the interval, Jonathan Calleri was hauled to the ground and Ángel Correa stepped up but saw his effort brush the outside of the post on its way wide.
Argentina contined to pile forward but when Lautaro Giannetti conceded a third penalty of the game, Lozano made no mistake and left Olarticoechea’s side needing two to progress.
Mauricio Martínez managed to pull one back thanks to a deflected free kick but a dramatic winner never materialised meaning Argentina were dumped out of the tournament.
Honduras qualify to the quarter-finals for the second straight Olympic tournament while Argentina are left to disect yet another abject failure at youth level.
Following first round exits in both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups within the last year, the Argentine Football Association must take a long, hard look at itself and begin to put in motion some system to put La Albiceleste back where its talented young players belong.