Brazil
© AFP

The past
Brazil have a proud tradition at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament, never having finished out of the top four since the competition's inception in 1996. In Atlanta in the inaugural event, they missed out on the final after losing a heart-breaker to China 3-2. Four years later in Sydney, they lost 1-0 to the USA at the same stage. They did manage to reach the final four years ago in Athens, but they were beaten 2-1 after extra time by the USA and a thumping Abby Wambach header. Their hopes for faring better In Beijing will be high as the Brazilians' runners-up finish at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup had them playing some outstanding football.

The present
The current Brazilian team, led by attacking artists Cristiane and FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, are considered one of the best women's teams on the planet. Even so, the runners-up at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, needed a play-off to qualify for Beijing. After losing out to fellow qualifiers Argentina in the South American championships, Jorge Barcellos' ladies had to play Ghana on 19 April in Beijing on the eve of the tournament's official draw. They managed a simple 5-1 to become the last team of the twelve-nation field to qualify.

The future
Although it took the Canarinha's longer than expected to qualify for Beijing 2008, they will enter the finals among the favourites. With some of the best players in the women's game gracing the starting line-up, the South Americans are looking to stamp their authority on the global scene with an elusive gold medal. Marta, the former youth star, and arguably the world's greatest-ever female footballer is certainly looking to make a further mark in the China. "We are thrilled to have reached the Olympics," she said. "But make no mistake, reaching the finals in China is only the first of our goals. We want to take home the gold."

Facts and figures

Former stars
Pretinha (1996, 2000, 2004), Sissi (1996, 2000), Maycon (2000, 2004)

Key players
Cristiane (midfield), Marta (forward), Formiga (midfield), Renata Costa (midfield)

Qualifying statistics
After losing out to Argentina in the South American championships, Brazil had a goal explosion in their cross-continental play-off with Ghana, scoring five and conceding only one.

The numbers game
0: The number of world championships Brazil have won at senior level.