BOGOTA: Lionel Messi could win Olympic football gold again after Argentina became the first South American nation to qualify for the finals in Tokyo in July and August writes KEIR RADNEDGE.

Messi was a winner with Argentina in Beijing in 2008 and could, in theory, return to the Games stages because the under-23 teams are permitted to add up to three over-age players.

The opportunity might appeal to Messi after his repeated lack of success at the World Cup, international sport’s other great platform.

An Olympic possiblity opened up just as events at Barcelona went from bad to worse when they were knocked out of the Spanish by 1-0 against Athletic Bilbao.

Earlier in the week sporting director Eric Abidal upset Messi and the squad by blaming their poor work ethic for the recent dismissal of coach Ernesto Valverde.

In Colombia second-half goals from Agustin Urzi – who was later sent off – and Nehuen Perez gave Argentina the hard-fought win on Thursday night.

That delivered an unassailable six points from two games, with one match remaining in the round robin qualification system played in Colombia.
Brazil, Uruguay and Colombia are challenging for the second qualification place with the final round of games taking place on Sunday.

Argentina are the 14th team to qualify for Tokyo, alongside nations that include Egypt, France, Germany, Spain and South Korea.