x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Olympics: Marta's Brazil are relaxed in chase of elusive gold medal

South Americans have lost the last two Olympic finals to the United States.

Marta is a five-time world player of the year but has never won gold. Julian Finney / Getty Images
Marta is a five-time world player of the year but has never won gold. Julian Finney / Getty Images

MANCHESTER // Marta is feeling something different this time. She can tell by the way her teammates are acting. She can tell by how she is behaving.

This time, she says, there is a sense that things will not go wrong again for Brazil's women's football team - the way they have so many times before.

There is a feeling that this could finally be the time Marta and her teammates can be the ones celebrating a major title at the end.

After two wins in two matches in the women's Olympic football competition, Marta says the team is at ease, shrugging off the pressure and carrying the right amount of confidence to go after the elusive title.

"I'm feeling more comfortable and the entire group is feeling more comfortable," the five-time world player of the year said. "We all know that we have the potential to win this gold medal. It's our dream, it has been our dream since we began playing together. And match after match we are becoming more and more confident."

On the eve of today's final Group E match against Great Britain in London, Marta said the immense pressure that always rests on Brazilian football teams - men or women - does not seem to be affecting the squad as much as in previous tournaments.

"I don't think this time the team is too nervous when it enters the field," she said. "I feel the girls are calmer, they are just really conscious of the work that they need to do. They know what this team can do, they know that we can go all the way."

Marta and her talented teammates have come close to a major triumph several times. Brazil have finished second in the last two Olympics, falling to the United States both times in the gold medal match.

They also had a heartbreaking defeat to the Americans in the quarter-finals of last year's World Cup in Germany, when the team allowed a last-minute equaliser in extra time before eventually losing in the penalty shoot-out.

In the 2007 World Cup final in China, it was Germany which ended Brazil's dreams of victory.

Brazil were fourth in the 1996 Atlanta Games and in the 2000 Sydney Games. Brazil's triumphs in women's football are limited to South American championships and gold medals at the 2003 and 2007 Pan American Games.

Meanwhile, Fifa is reviewing the hit to the face that left the United States forward Abby Wambach with a black eye during a game against Colombia. Wambach said she was "sucker-punched" in the right eye by Lady Andrade in the 39th minute of Saturday's 3-0 victory. After the game, Wambach called for Fifa to take action, while Andrade called it "an accident".