Ma a and the lady Selecao enjoy spotlight
ALREADY buoyed by the pursuit of landing a first gold medal in the sport for football-mad Brazil, the hosts’ women will be inspired by the rare chance to play at the iconic Maracana in their Olympics semi-final with Sweden today.
Having lived for so long in the shadow of their male counterparts, the Canarinha are loving their time in the limelight with a nation enthralled by their emotional run to the last four.
A heart-stopping 7-6 penalty shootout win over Australia left fivetime World Player of the Year Marta in tears of relief after her missed spot-kick looked to have sealed Brazil’s fate.
Instead, goalkeeper Barbara made two brilliant stops to set up a semifinal against Sweden, who also ended the USA’s bid for a fourth straight gold on penalties in the quarter-finals.
“I never thought I could play at the Maracana,” striker Andressa Alves told FIFA.com.
“The Maracana is the symbol of Brazilian football. Zico, Ronaldo, everybody ... I’ve got to be there to see what it’s like.”
The 23-year-old, whose burgeoning talents have seen her sign for Barcelona’s women’s team in June, is loving the support so normally reserved for Brazil’s men, who are also in semi-final action at Maracana against Honduras on August 17.
“The guys always get to play in front of 50 or 60,000 people, but we don’t. Here, we’re getting those crowds everywhere and now we’ve got the Maracana, where there’s going to be even more.”
The women could even have the honour of beating the men to Brazil’s first-ever football gold with the women’s final at the 78,000 capacity Maracana on Friday, 24 hours before the men’s showpiece. –