Ever since the early days of South American women's football, Brazil have worked hard to earn a place amongst the world's elite. And just like their counterparts in the men's game, they have constantly wowed spectators across the globe with their entertaining, skilful football.
In fact, the Auriverde are the only side from the continent to have appeared at every FIFA Women's World Cup so far. Even so, the Canarinha would have to wait until the 1999 tournament in the USA to leave their mark. Having failed to make it past the group stages at China 1991 and Sweden 1995, Brazil stormed all the way to the podium on North American soil with a deserved third-place finish.
Fours year on from that notable feat, a Brazil side now including exciting young talents Marta and Katia failed to build on their 1999 success, crashing out to Sweden in the Round of 16 at USA 2003. Despite this disappointment, the new generation of gifted Brazilian stars has since given their fans plenty of reasons to celebrate, such as a silver-medal winning performance at the Olympic Women's Football Tournament at Athens 2004, and third place at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship Russia 2006.
The next challenge for Jorge Barcellos' Selecao is the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007. However, the coming months are set to be a testing time for Barcelos' talented charges, under something of a cloud after their qualifying campaign on Argentine soil. For the first time in their history, the Brazilians lost a qualifying game and with it their South American crown. Prior to that decisive reverse, the Verdeamarelas had won the four previous continental titles, scoring 173 goals while racking up 22 wins, conceding just nine times along the way.
One reason behind this uncharacteristic slip-up could have been the absence of genuine world-class stars Marta and Katia, as well as the lack of experience in Barcelos' young squad. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the Auriverde campaign still had more than its fair share of high points, including a highly respectable 30 goals scored and a miserly four conceded. Another positive was the emergence of Cristiane Roseira, whose 12 goals propelled her to the top of the scorers' charts.
After the frustration of losing their South American throne to deadly rivals the Albiceleste, Brazil head to China determined to redress the balance and repair their battered pride. Only the samba stars' very best will do if they wish to improve on their efforts at previous FIFA Women's World Cups and challenge for the biggest prize of them all.
November's South American qualifying tournament for China 2007, held in the Argentine coastal city of Mar del Plata, was the first time the Selecao booked their place at the FIFA Women's World Cup without taking the continental crown. Instead, that honour went to the hosts, who took great pleasure in ending the Auriverdes' bid for a fifth consecutive South American success.
Coach Jorge Barcelos squad selection relied heavily on the U-20 side that performed so admirably at Russia 2006, where Marta and Katia had also been absent. After boldly proclaiming beforehand that "our goal is to win the tournament and seal our place in China", the Canarinha coach was forced to settle for second.
Barcelos' charges had made short work of the first phase of qualifying, sweeping aside the challenges of Paraguay, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela to top Group B with maximum points. Their purple patch continued in the final round, where consecutive 6-0 thrashings of Paraguay and Uruguay booked Brazil's ticket to China with a game to spare. All the signs pointed to yet another yellow-and-gold success going into the title-deciding final game with Argentina, only for the plucky Albicelestes to pull off a deserved 2-0 win.
Current coach Jorge Barcellos was once a player himself, the highlight of his brief career being a two-year spell in Japanese amateur football between 1993 and 1994. After hanging up his boots, Barcelos decided to make the move into coaching, with very positive results. Having cut his teeth in management over in the Land of the Rising Sun, the promising young tactician earned a place on the Brazilian Football Confederation's (CBF) technical committee in 2005.
In March 2006 Barcelos took over the reins of the country's U-20 side from Luis Antonio Ferreira and went on to lead the team at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship Russia 2006. "I've always dreamed of working at the very highest level of the women's game," he said at the time.
In the event, his Verdeamarela disciples did him proud over on Russian soil, beating traditional heavyweights USA on penalties to finish in third place. The task before the 39-year-old strategist is now even greater: to guide Brazil to their first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup trophy.
FIFA Women's World Cup history