Cristiane: This time will be different
© Foto-net

The progress of the women's game in Brazil and Auriverde striker Cristiane's own professional development have been inextricably linked. It seems like just yesterday than the lethal front-runner, currently playing her football in Sweden for Linkopings, burst onto the world football scene at the Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004 with five goals in six games. Four years on from that vital contribution to her team's silver-medal result, the gifted striker has struck another five times here at Beijing 2008 to help her country into another Olympic final.

And with the eagerly anticipated rematch with defending champions the USA just hours away, the 23-year-old star took time out to chat exclusively to FIFA.com about her Olympic experiences, the possibility of avenging that Athens defeat by the Americans and her ambitions for the remainder of her career.

FIFA.com: Cristiane, you are just 23 years old and you've already appeared at two Olympic Football Tournaments. How does that feel?
Cristiane: For me it's something that's hard to believe. I never imagined that I'd have this opportunity in such a short space of time. I'm taking part in my second Olympics, I'm preparing to play my second consecutive final and I've already got one silver medal. It's wonderful! I'm very happy but this time I'm hoping to end up with a gold medal round my neck.

Your Olympic career appears intertwined with the USA: they were the opponents in the first match you started at an Olympic Football Tournament, then you played against them in that memorable final and now you are set to face them again with gold at stake. You must be having mixed feelings at the moment...
Of course. It's always special playing against a team of the stature and pedigree of the United States. And more so having lost to them in that final in Athens. Now we're coming up against them again in a decisive game, but I'm sure that things are going to end differently this time.

Will Brazil finally get their revenge?
Yes, everything is falling into place for that to happen. It seems like someone has written this story just for us: first we beat Germany, who beat us in the final of the World Cup last year, and now we find the United States blocking our path once more, just as in the final in 2004. I firmly believe that it will be a different story this time around.

You have now scored ten goals at the Olympic Football Tournament. Which was the most important?
Without doubt the two that I put past Germany in Monday's semi-final, for several reasons. Firstly we wanted to set the record straight after what happened at the World Cup. Also we were one step away from the final, and the goals helped us win the game. It was an incredible feeling, one that I hope to repeat against the United States.

What can you tell us about Pia Sundhage's team?
They are a great side, who have just lost one of their most important players in the shape of Abby Wambach. Even so, they have grown together as a team and are performing excellently. It will be vital to play carefully and keep our cool as we take the field.

Are your brothers aware of just how much you have achieved in the game?
Of course they are, though sometimes they find it hard to believe. When we were small we used to all play together in the street, but now I'm the one playing top-flight football and they're the ones who have to go to work every day. It's unbelievable!

How much would the gold medal mean to this squad of players?
Everything, absolutely everything. We've worked really hard throughout the whole year with that aim in mind, so for that reason it would be hugely important both for us and the country as a whole. We want to give them something to celebrate and in the process help the overall development of women's football in Brazil.

How much would a win on Thursday help the sport's progress over there?
Well, I must admit that Brazilians' perceptions of women's football have changed considerably. There are a lot of people who have started following it and who come and support us at the various tournaments. But a gold medal would help our cause even more, of course.

Having achieved so much at such a young age, what other ambitions do you have left to fulfil?
Well, I used to dream of playing abroad and being able to help out my family. Fortunately I was able to achieve that. Now I'd like Brazil to have an important and competitive women's league.

And what about the gold medal?
That too, of course! We're hoping to get our hands on that on Thursday...