Brazil beat Argentina 1-0 on the final day of the South American under-20 championship but it was too little too late as Ecuador pipped Argentina to the title with Brazil ending outside the qualifying spots for this year’s World Cup.
Uruguay and Colombia will join Ecuador, who won their maiden title, and Argentina in the finals of the biennial event that kicks off in Poland in May.
Brazil, who have won the South American championship more than any other nation, scored only six goals in nine games and finished fifth in the six-team final group.
Though the South American giants have been without some top players in the tournament with Real Madrid not releasing Vinicius Junior and Bayern Munich denying permission to winger Paulinho, they have also been hindered by poor preparation.
Current coach Carlos Amadeu took over only a year ago and the chopping and changing meant that Brazil, unlike rivals Uruguay or Argentina, have had no consistent game plan or style, with each new manager bringing his own ideas.
A lack of interest in the tournament was also evident in coverage with Brazilian media devoting more space to Neymar’s 27th birthday party than their youth team’ defeat by Uruguay the same night.
Nigeria, South Africa, Mali and Senegal will represent Africa at the event.