VANCOUVER: Superstar forward Marta returns as Brazil bid to maintain their winning momentum at the Women’s World Cup against Australia on Sunday, with France and Canada also in action in the last 16.
Third-ranked France will be up against South Korea in Montreal, while hosts Canada play Switzerland over on the west coast in Vancouver.
“Australia are a very competitive team and have very intense players,” said Brazil coach Vadao of their 10th-ranked opponents. “We’re going to face a very strong rival. It’s sudden death and we can’t afford any mistakes. We have to fine tune and every detail is going to be very important.”
Marta did not play in the 2007 runners-up final group game against Costa Rica, because of a slight injury, along with stalwarts Cristiane and Formiga.
But Vadao insisted: “Marta will play on Sunday I can tell you that for sure.”
The 29-year-old former five-time world footballer of the year is bidding to add a first world title to her trophy cabinet.
“I will continue fighting, as I always did. I will do everything possible to try to return to Brazil with the expected results,” said Marta.
The record Women’s World Cup goal scorer now has a dual responsibility — to be an inspiration on and off the pitch.
“It is logical that now I have a greater responsibility. In the group there are many girls who watch everything I do. I have a good relationship with all of them.” Alen Stajcic’s Matildas face a tough task against a Brazil who won all three of their group games and are yet to concede a goal.
Captain Lisa De Vanna will be one of the key players for Australia who finished second in their group behind the United States.
“It’s going to be a tough match but we’ve already made it out of the group of death supposedly,” said Australian midfielder Tameka Butt. “Marta is definitely a big player and someone we have to watch out for. But the way we structure and our game plan, if we stick to how we play football I think we’ll be alright.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2015.
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