Currently preparing his team for the challenges that lie ahead at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Germany 2010, Brazil coach Marcos Gaspar is well aware of his role in shaping the future success of the country’s women’s teams.
“If four or five of my players can kick on and help the full national team win things in the years to come, then I’ll be happy with the work I’m doing now,” he tells FIFA.com.
Gaspar, who coached the Brazil side eliminated in the group phase at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup New Zealand 2008, also knows that the responsibility of wearing the famous yellow jersey brings with it the expectation of success.
“That’s the way Brazilian football is,” he adds. “We want to win today, not tomorrow or in five years' time. It’s good for the girls to get used to that pressure from the off. We’re putting in a lot of solid ground work and my sincere belief is that 2015 will be the big year for Brazilian women’s football, though that doesn’t mean to say we can’t go a long way in Germany.”
Three to watch
For Gaspar, ‘going a long way’ means reaching the final: “Our objective is to go home to Brazil only after reaching the final, and when you get that far it’s the tiny details that make the difference between winning and losing.”
Despite his lofty ambitions, he does not see his side among the favourites to win the tournament, a status he instead bestows on hosts Germany, defending champions USA and Korea DPR, Brazil’s rivals in their opening group match on 13 July.
“If you look at recent history, they’re the three sides who have the edge. Japan are another team to look out for. They showed a lot of quality at the U-17 finals in 2008, especially [Mana] Iwabuchi.
“Our strong point is our technical quality,” he adds, turning his attention to the attributes of his young hopefuls, who he is happy to see ranked among the dark horses. “Nobody’s talking about Brazil as favourites, something that could work to our advantage. We’ve been drawn in a difficult section with the reigning U-17 champions Korea DPR, European runners-up Sweden and New Zealand, who have come on a lot since hosting the U-17 tournament in 2008. We know it’s going to be a heck of a fight but I think we have it in us to surprise a few people.”
While banking on the technical abilities of his players, Gaspar is also paying a great deal of attention to the tactical side of things. “We play an attacking game, using a 4-4-2 formation with talented players in the midfield and two full-backs who get forward a lot,” he explains.
“They can be a real weapon for us. It’s a very skilful team that’s really comfortable in possession, but I’ve also been working hard on the things we need to do when we don’t have the ball. I think that’s an area that could make all the difference. The girls have a very good appreciation of tactics.”
The South American champions, who reached the finals after beating Colombia 2-0 in the final of the continental qualifying competition, are leaving nothing to chance in their preparations for the big event. Joining up at a secluded training hideaway on 25 May, the squad will stay together until 6 June, before reuniting ten days later. “All things being equal, we shouldn’t be saying goodbye to each other again until August, once the final has been played,” says a confident Gaspar.
It remains to be seen whether he and his side will have the trophy in their possession by that time. Yet even if they come away from Germany empty-handed, with Gaspar's help Brazil’s foundations for the future should become even more solid in the weeks ahead.