Soccer-Angry Brazil coach hits out at officials after goalless draw

SAN JUAN, Argentina (Reuters) - Brazil held Argentina to a 0-0 draw in San Juan on Tuesday but Brazilian coach Tite angrily hit out at what he said was an “inconceivable” decision taken - or not taken - by officials manning the video assistant referee (VAR).

Soccer Football - World Cup - South American Qualifiers - Argentina v Brazil - Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan, Argentina - November 16, 2021 Brazil coach Tite REUTERS/Agustin Marcarian

Tite felt Argentine defender Nicolas Otamendi should have been punished for elbowing winger Raphinha in the first half.

The two tussled for the ball near the goal line and Otamendi appeared to elbow the Leeds United winger in the face. Raphinha fell to the ground but Otamendi hauled him up, clearly wanting the game to continue.

Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha looked to be receiving messages from his colleagues in the VAR cabin but took no action, a decision that infuriated the normally placid Brazilian coach.

“Cunha is an extraordinary referee,” Tite said, his voice rising. “Refereeing demands a team and those who were in the VAR, it’s impossible, and I am going to repeat this, it is impossible not to see Otamendi’s elbow on Raphinha.”

“A high quality VAR official cannot work this way. It’s inconceivable. Inconceivable is not the word I want to use. I am using that word because I am polite.”

Tite was nevertheless pleased with the result of a game in which he was forced to field his youngest side since taking over as national coach in 2016.

The loss of Neymar through injury contributed to a new front line of Vinicius Jnr, Matheus Cunha and Raphinha, who between them boast only 15 caps.

“We lost an extraordinary player, Neymar, and we had to restructure the team, who held their own against guy of the quality of Messi,” he told reporters.

“It was a spectacle that went back and forth,” he said of he entertaining draw. “The quality of both teams meant that neither was able to control the game.”

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Robert Birsel