Copa Libertadores Femenina

Brazil's first lady

Tatiele Silveira
© imago images
  • Tatiele Silveira masterminded the ending of Corinthians’ world-record run
  • The 39-year-old became the first female coach to win the Brasileirao title
  • She talks breaking ground for women and the ongoing Libertadores

Remember when snowboarder Ester Ledecka, making her Olympic alpine skiing debut on borrowed skis, ridiculed stratospheric odds to win Super-G gold? Or when unseeded Roberta Vinci, who had more losses that year than Serena Williams had in over a decade, earth-shook Flushing Meadows in 2015? Or when USA, who had won every one of their all-time FIFA Women’s World Cup™ qualifiers, were stupefied 2-1 by Mexico in Cancun?

Well, this decade’s mother-of-all-upsets debate in women’s sport got an 11th-hour yet high-power contender.

Corinthians began the Brasileirao final as the defending champions. They had extraordinarily won 34 straight matches to smash the Guinness World Record for a men’s or women’s team. They boasted Brazil internationals Leticia, Erika, Tamires, Victoria Albuquerque and Millene. They had won eight consecutive matches against Ferroviaria. The sides’ latest meeting had ended in a 4-0 Corinthians victory – and on their rivals' patch.

But a young sorceress had a plot. It was avant-garde; jeopardous even. After a 1-1 draw at home, however, Ferroviaria drew 0-0 in front of 6,000-plus Corinthians fans before winning on penalties. Tatiele Silveira, at just 39, became the first female coach to conquer the competition.

“To become the first female coach to win the Brasileiro, in charge of a club of such tradition within women’s football, was really, really, really special for me,” Tatiele told FIFA.com.

“Corinthians are the benchmark within Brazilian women’s football for their infrastructure, investment, players. They deserve all the respect for the historic feat of making the Guinness Book, and to beat such a great team with such a great coach in Arthur Elias heightens our achievement.

“I felt a mixture of tremendous happiness, pride and having accomplished something for [women’s] rights. I think it was a great step for women within football – women who have to fight for opportunities. It shows that the gender of the professional doesn’t matter.

“And not just for players and coaches, but for women who work in other roles within football – I hope it can inspire and encourage them to go after opportunities, to knock on clubs’ doors.”

Ferroviaria’s conquest was indebted to a WhatsApp group in which Tatiele talked tactics with her pupils until the early hours of mornings, and the Gaúcha sending out a reserve side in the Campeonato Paulista semi-finals.

“We had two competitions simultaneously – four games against Corinthians in 11 days,” she explained. “We simply couldn’t compete with a giant of women’s football on two fronts, so we decided to prioritise the most important competition in our country.”

Ferroviaria predictably lost that state championship tie 9-1 on aggregate, but the sacrifice paid dividends when they won their third penalty shootout in less than a month – a tie-settler Tatiele insists is not the proverbial lottery.

“We practise penalties a lot – a real lot!” she said. “And we study our opponents’ penalties a lot – what the opposing goalkeepers do, how the opposing penalty-takers like to hit them.

“Our goalkeeping coach, Vanessa, is very clued up. She gave a lot of tips to Luciana and our penalty-takers.”

Luciana, who was Brazil’s first-choice keeper at Canada 2015 but missed out on France 2019 selection, was habitually immovable in the final.

“She’s an outstanding goalkeeper,” said Tatiele. “She has so much experience and is a great leader. She produces sensational saves, really crucial saves.

“All the goalkeepers in the national team are very good, but for her brilliance, experience and the confidence that she gives the team, my opinion is that she’s the best Brazilian goalkeeper.”

Luciana produced two of those sensational saves on Monday as Ferroviaria eliminated defending champions Atletico Huila 3-2 in a pulsating quarter-final in the Copa Libertadores Feminina.

“It was a clash of giants,” said Tatiele. “It was a great game, one of the highest quality. It was intense, really strategic.

“We’re really pleased to have beaten such great opponents. The victory has strengthened us to take on Cerro Porteno in the semi-finals. They are a very good side, very good offensively.

“But I think we’re getting better at the right time, in the knockout phase. I’m very confident in my players.”

One of those players is Aline Milene.

“She’s a fantastic player,” said Tatiele. “So intelligent, so creative. She has an incredible ability to improvise. She’s fast, she conducts matches. She’s very efficient, really dangerous, and we have to make the most of her talent all the time.”

The playmaker made substitute appearances as Brazil won in England and Poland recently, and Tatiele believes A Seleção are on an upward curve.

“I think Brazil played well at the World Cup,” she said. “But I believe the talent of Brazilian players is on another level and that we can do better in World Cups. We have great players – Marta, Formiga, Cristiane – and I think Pia [Sundhage] will take us to the next level.

"Pia is a role model across the world. She has a great understanding of football. She brings a winner’s mentality, a European culture that will strengthen us greatly. I’m really pleased, and personally I hope to learn a lot from Pia.

“Every Brazilian coach dreams of leading the Seleção. But I’ve still got so much to learn. I’m still learning at domestic level. I hope to keep growing as a coach so that one day I will be good enough to be considered.”

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