South America is known for its flamboyant style of football—the confidence to try an audacious piece of skill that may or may not come off and the desire to wow those in attendance. But to date, the region has only had one FIFA Women’s World Cup™ finalist, and that was Brazil in 2007.
Marshalling the defence in that Final was towering centre-back Aline, who had the unenviable task of having to stop one of Germany’s greats, Birgit Prinz, and a hugely talented German team, that would go on to win the Final 2-0 in Shanghai.
But despite that defeat, the retired defender, who is now working as a football coordinator in her home country, ranks reaching that World Cup decider 12 years ago, as her career highlight.
“Beating USA 4-0 in the semi-final and then being so close to winning the trophy by reaching the Final, that competition was special for me,” she said.
“The result of course didn’t go well for the team, but we did so well to get to that Final and for me personally, I was playing my best football at that time.”
Having represented her country in two World Cups, Aline knows exactly what the Brazil players will be going through in the lead up to this year’s tournament in France.
‘Nerves’ and ‘excitement’, the words you would expect to hear, are terms she uses to describe the final weeks in the lead up to a major tournament. But Aline believes that if you take that away, then players should probably stop playing.
“For every professional player these weeks and months leading up to the competition make you feel quite nervous, but also excited.
“When players stop having this feeling, it’s time to stop playing, because it’s part of the game to be nervous and excited about big World Cup games that are coming.”
Young players ready for the spotlight
Brazil have been drawn against Australia, Italy and Jamaica in their group and will once again lean on their skill, experience and unpredictability to try and outwit their three opponents.
While Marta will once again be a focal point for opposition defences, Aline outlined that this year is an opportunity for others to shine, with young players like Ludmila da Silva, currently playing with Atletico Madrid, starting to make a name for themselves.
“Marta is a player that is always a focal point, the best player in the world. But, players like Ludmila and Adriana will be important like Marta.
“They will show their potential to the rest of the world and I hope they perform well during the matches.”
Aline was speaking at the latest leg of the current FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Trophy Tour during its stop in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, and hopes that the next time the trophy is in Brazil, that it won’t be going anywhere else afterwards.
However, she knows that with the growth of the women’s game globally, that there is now even more competition for the coveted prize at France 2019.
“There are many competitors across the world, but the level of football in Brazil has improved a lot as well.
“In the past we didn’t have a youth league, but now we have two senior leagues and one for the youth. Now we can find players in the Brazilian clubs, which improves the level. This will help us for the future.”