Dual target drives Marcelo
Marcelo Moreno Martins was born in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia to a native mother and a Brazilian father. He represented the Seleção at U-20 level, yet plays senior international football for La Verde, known in his birthland as Marcelo Martins and in the country that he now calls home as Marcelo Moreno.
There is, however, nothing conflicting about the Cruzeiro striker's form this past six months. The 20-year-old has impressed for both club and country, and while he is considered the future of the Bolivian national team, his more immediate goals lie at club level.
The Raposa face Caracas FC in the Copa Libertadores tonight, knowing that victory would see them replace their opponents atop of Group 1. Adilson Batista's side will then return to the Mineirao on Sunday to face arch-rivals Atletico Mineiro in a crucial state championship fixture. FIFA.com catches up with Marcelo Moreno to hear of his belief that Cruzeiro can conquer the continent and that Bolivia can qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
FIFA.com: Marcelo, 2008 has started very promisingly for
Cruzeiro but now you face games against Caracas and Atletico that
could make or break your season. Do you believe the team can handle
the pressure and pull off two victories?
Nothing is easy in football. When you play in the Libertadores and in a derby, you can't take anything for granted. But coach Adilson has got us playing well and working hard in training, so we're hoping to win both of these games even though we know it'll be tough.
Caracas beat San Lorenzo and Real Patosi - did that
Not really. The win over San Lorenzo was impressive but Caracas are a very good team. They play good football, pass the ball about and have a lot of experienced players. They did well in last year's Copa Libertadores and this shows they are a team to be reckoned with.
Caracas will play away from home for the first time in
Group 1. Do you think the presence of the Cruzeiro fans in the
Mineirao will provide them with an intimidating atmosphere?
I hope so. The Cruzeiro fans are very passionate and we can always count on their support. It's always an advantage to have the supporters behind you.
Can Cruzeiro win the tournament?
I certainly believe we can. This is the feeling among the whole squad. We've been in good form and we are constantly improving under Adilson. It's our belief that we can win it.
Which teams do you consider Cruzeiro's principal rivals
for the title?
There are no easy games in the Libertadores. First we have to concentrate on getting out of our group, because we have three tough teams to compete against. Several sides could triumph but former champions like Boca Juniors and Sao Paulo have strong credentials.
Fabio has been in fine form for Cruzeiro this season. Do
you feel he deserves a regular place in Dunga's Brazil squad?
Without doubt. Fabio is a great goalkeeper and he's been in superb form for us. I really hope he gets the chance to become a regular. He's still only young and is playing so well.
Is the Mineiro State Championship, Brazilian Championship
or Copa Libertaodres the club's priority this year?
I think the directors would most like us to win the Copa Libertadores. But for us players we think about winning everything. That's the way we have to think.
Moving on to your international history, you turned out for
Brazil at U-20 level.
I was at Vitoria [his former club] and I received the call-up. It was a big opportunity for me.
You then elected to represent Bolivia rather than pursue a
future with Brazil at senior level. Was this a difficult decision?
Yes, it was a very difficult decision. I gave it a lot of thought and received a lot of advice from a number of people, including my father [former Palmeiras player Mauro Martins]. I weighed up the options. Bolivia opened their doors to me and showed their confidence in my football. They gave me the chance to play in the World Cup qualifiers and this was a big incentive. I'm very happy with my choice.
Bolivia have made a poor start to their bid to reach South
Africa 2010. Do you still believe the side can qualify for the
Everything is possible. Three of our four matches have been away and this has made it difficult for us. But we believe that we can qualify for the World Cup. Now we have two home games and if we win those we are right back in contention. It's very important that we beat Chile (in our next qualifier in June).
Although Bolivia lost 5-3 to Venezuela, you must have been
satisfied with your individual performance?
We did not achieve the result we set out to so I was very disappointed. Helping the team succeed is what is important to me, not personal glory. I think this is the way a player must think - the team must come first. Yes, I scored two goals but I would have swapped it for the three points without hesitation.
Bolivia take on Brazil in September. How do you feel about
potentially playing against the
I haven't really given it much thought but I imagine it would be a very emotional occasion for me. I've carried both the Brazilian and Bolivian jerseys on my back. It was an honour to represent Brazil and I have a lot of people here who have helped me. But I was born and raised in Bolivia, am very grateful to the Bolivian fans for supporting me, and I will be doing my best to help them achieve a positive result.
Who will your dad be supporting?
[Laughs] I don't know! Well, I think a father always has to support his son, so I think he'll be urging me to play well and help Bolivia to victory. A father always wants his son to succeed.
Finally, what are your main ambitions for the future?
To win the Libertadores with Cruzeiro and to one day play for Real Madrid. Right now I'm just thinking about the Libertadores, of bringing this title to Cruzeiro and providing joy for the fans. But to play for Real Madrid one day in the future would be dream come true.