Brazil first began to emerge as a force on the women’s scene at the Olympic Football Tournament Atlanta 1996, when the Sissi-inspired Seleção came home in fourth spot – the country’s first top-four finish at a major women’s competition. That pattern has continued ever since, with Brazil coming fourth once more at Sydney 2000 and claiming silver medals at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, where their conquerors on both occasions were the United States.
The overwhelming feeling in the Brazilian camp in the wake of their quarter-final exit at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, once again at the hands of the Stars and Stripes, was one of disappointment. Indeed, having finished second at the three previous major FIFA tournaments – the aforementioned two Olympic Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2007 – missing out on the semi-finals was a bitter pill to swallow. Called upon to steer the Canarinha ship back on course was Jorge Barcellos, who guided A Seleção to said runners-up spots at China 2007 and Beijing 2008 and whose aim it is to help Brazil clinch a coveted gold medal at London 2012.
A key feature of Barcellos’ mission is to blood an ever greater number of the young starlets coming off the Brazilian production line. The likes of Thaisinha and Debinha should therefore soon be vying for playing time with the more established members of a squad led by superstar No10 Marta. And the latter will be hungrier than ever to win a major title with Brazil, given the country’s premature exit at Germany 2011 coincided with her missing out on the FIFA World Player crown she had held for five consecutive years.
Facts and figures
Sissi, Roseli, Pretinha
Marta (attacker), Cristiane (striker), Erika (defender), Aline Pellegrino (defender), Rosana (midfielder), Maurine (forward)
In November 2010’s South American Championship in Ecuador, Brazil won all seven of their encounters – scoring 25 goals to just two conceded. Once in the four-team final round, A Amarelinha wasted little time in winning a fifth continental title and booking their passage to both Germany 2011 and London 2012 in the process, thanks to 4-0 and 5-0 victories over Argentina and Colombia respectively.
The numbers game
10 - In 12 matches played to date at Olympic Football Tournaments, Cristiane has helped herself to no fewer than ten goals, five of which came at Athens 2004 and five at Beijing 2008. Marta’s long-term attacking foil, Cristiane finished top scorer at both events.