There is no doubt that Marta remains one of the best, most talented and brilliant players in the women’s game, as anyone who has watched her in action will attest. Recently, however, it cannot have been easy for Brazil’s No10 to feel like one of the world’s finest – particularly since A Seleção have struggled to hold onto their place among the women’s international elite.
Runners-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ China 2007 and the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008, As Canarinhas were knocked out of Germany 2011 in the last eight by USA and at the same stage of this year’s Olympics by Japan. Visibly distraught after the latter defeat, Marta wept openly and, as its highest-profile figure, called upon her countrymen and women to rethink their approach to women’s football.
In an interview with FIFA.com, the superstar revealed how she and her Brazil team-mates still find both those quarter-final defeats hard to swallow, as well as giving us her picks for the main awards to be presented at the upcoming FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala.
FIFA.com: How would you say things have gone for you during 2012?
Marta: I think 2012 could have gone better. At the end of the day, I work towards trying to win every title available, though I know that’s not always possible.
Have you been frustrated by A Seleção’s recent results? Do you think it could threaten your chances of winning individual honours?
I don’t think any of us are happy with our recent results. We’ve got a lot of quality and we need to take fuller advantage of it. If you don’t get results as a team, that has a negative impact on everyone in the squad. And, of course, it doesn’t help on an individual level either.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the need for changes in the Brazil squad. In your view, what would be the right first step?
I think that the first step is to better organise our fixture calendar. We lag behind a lot of countries in that sense: they’ve had a head start on us for a long time now. The sport needs to be given a higher priority.
We know that in recent years we’ve let slip the chance of being among the leading sides in the world rankings, but we’re totally capable of getting back into the top spots.
In terms of A Seleção’s performance at recent major tournaments – going out to USA at Germany 2011 and Japan at London 2012 – could those games have gone either way or are Brazil simply a notch below the world’s best?
I can still vividly remember both the game against the Americans and the one against Japan. I think that we could have done better. We need to learn how to play in these kinds of games, we have to show 100 per cent commitment in every single match. We know that in recent years we’ve let slip the chance of being among the leading sides in the world rankings, but we’re totally capable of getting back into the top spots.
Have Brazil became too dependent on your individual ability?
I don’t think so. I think that the most important thing Brazil need to do to become the best football team in the world is to work very hard at becoming collectively strong. Obviously you can’t put individual talent to one side, but I think when you’re working well as a unit players' individual ability naturally comes to the surface too.
If you were voting for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, who would you choose? And for the FIFA's Women's Coach of the Year award?
I’d vote for Canada’s Christine Sinclair as the player of the year. And I’d vote for Pia Sundhage as the best women’s coach.
And was there any player whose performances in 2012 surprised you? Someone who clearly took their game up a level?
I really like Sinclair. I’ve already had the chance to play in the same team as her, and she always caught the eye, but this year, in my view, she was Canada’s outstanding player when they won bronze at the Olympics.
In terms of the men’s award, who would be your choices for best player and coach?
[Lionel] Messi continues to be the best player in the world. In terms of the men’s football coach, I really like Sir Alex Ferguson.
Finally, how about the FIFA Puskás Award? Have you watched all ten shortlisted goals and do you have a favourite?
I really liked the goal scored by [Gaston] Mealla in Bolivia. It’s something different, which you don’t see very often.