- The Brazilian recalls her Rio 2016 experience
- With the home fans behind them, A Seleçao finished fourth
- The forward is hoping Brazil can make the podium at Tokyo 2020
Though nearly three years have gone by, the memories are still fresh in the mind of Andressa Alves.
A Seleçao were gunning for a third Olympic final, on home soil, with their fans right behind them and Sweden provided the opposition. The opportunity slipped through the hosts’ fingers, however, in a penalty shootout that brought joy for the Swedes and desolation for the Brazilians.
And then it happened.
"We were all dejected but the fans stuck right by us,” recalled Alves. “When the match finished and we lost on penalties, they got to their feet and started applauding us, chanting ‘Brazil, Brazil’. Hearing that support was massive for us."
That support was every bit as unanimous a few days later, when Brazil missed out on the bronze after a 2-1 defeat by Canada. So unconditional was it that the memory of having a nation united as one behind the team has outlived that of the disappointment of finishing fourth and out of the medals.
“I tell everyone that those Olympic Games will be remembered forever because the fans showed so much love for us,” said the forward. “There were 60,000 of them at the quarter-final match and then 70,000.” That agonising Olympic semi-final defeat to the Swedes also happened to take place at a very special venue.
🏟️ The Maracana experience
An awe-inspiring place in its own right, the Maracana Stadium is even more impressive when full to capacity, as it was that day.
“I’d only ever seen the boys play there on TV and I never thought I’d end up running out there one day,” said Alves. “I think every one of us enjoyed every moment of the Olympic Games and the memories we have of it today couldn’t be more special."
🗼 Redemption in Tokyo?
Qualifying for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is no easy task, with spaces for only 12 teams, including the host nation. Brazil have already made sure of their place at Tokyo 2020 after sweeping all before them at the Copa America.
“Not everyone has the chance to play at the Olympics, but in football you lose one day and the next you get another opportunity to win,” said Alves. “We lost in Rio but we’ll have a great chance in Tokyo.”
Alves knows what it means to play at the World Cup, to win the Copa America and to play at the very highest level with her club, Barcelona, but what would it mean to add an Olympic medal to her career achievements?
“Wow!” she exclaimed before a smile came across her face. “You ask any athlete if they want one and they’ll all say that they do. You win a medal and you go down in history. Winning a medal at the Games is something you can tell your children! I just hope I can play in some more."
Though Andressa and Brazil’s most immediate challenge is the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™, the striker has already put a big red ring around Tokyo 2020 on her calendar, such is her determination to make an Olympic medal hers.