She grew up poor in Brazil and her idols were such one-name wonders as Rivaldo,
Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. Her moves are similar, her goals equally ambitious.
"They were all examples to me, the ones who we all knew," she said after
practice, speaking in her native Portuguese. "I was born playing football. I
don't know where I learned to play. I've been doing it since I was 7. My
inspiration is my family, for all the tough things they have gone through."
Marta and her Brazilian teammates massacred the United States 4-0 on Thursday in
the second semifinal of the Women's World Cup in Hangzhou, one of China's most
popular tourist cities.
The Americans, undefeated in 51 games over almost three years, found a host of
other single-name players across the midfield and front line too hot to handle.
They included Maycon, Cristiane, Formiga, Daniela and Ester - all almost as
talented as Marta who stood between the No. 1-ranked U.S. and its bid for a
third World Cup title.
The final is Sunday in Shanghai and and defending champion, Germany like the
United States and Norway have won the World Cup before. Brazil is a new threat,
and Marta is a key reason.
"Marta has so much confidence when she is on the ball," said U.S. midfielder
Shannon Boxx, who played against her in the 2004 Olympic final, which the U.S.
won 2-1 in extra time. "Their whole team is very crafty, but she is the one you
cannot lose focus on because then she'll take it to you. She may put you to
sleep, then all of a sudden she'll be ready." Sunday's 3-2 quarterfinal victory
over Australia was an example.
Though she converted a penalty kick to make it 2-0 - her fifth goal to share the
lead in tournament scoring - Marta was average by her standards. But after
Australia tied it 2-2, it was Marta at midfield who found Daniela down the
middle. Cristiane got the final pass and scored on a 20-meter (yard) shot to
give Brazil the victory in the 75th minute.
China coach likely to stay
China's women's soccer players are distraught at the prospect their coach will
be dumped after failing to meet the benchmark set in her contract. Swedish born
coach Marika Domanski-Lyfors has graciously accepted responsibility for China's
exit from the FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-finals and now awaits the
discretion of Chinese Football Association (CFA) officials.
But the vocal support of both players and chief officials are strong signs that
the dignified mentor will be retained - and steer the team to the 2008 Beijing
"We should cheer for the players and the coach, and give our thanks to
Domanski-Lyfors," Xie Yalong, vice-president of CFA, said in an endorsement of
the brand of attacking soccer played by China.
China's 1-0 quarter-final loss to Norway on Sunday, a consequence of a number of
fluffed goal chances and a crucial defensive blunder from rookie Wang Kun, left
players, coaches and spectators weeping at the Wuhan Sports Centre Stadium.
No one blames Wang - neither teammates nor usually critical media but she said
it would take some time to recover from the shattering moment. "I am concerned
if the coach will leave the job because of the mistake," she lamented. "I really
cannot forgive myself for it. It almost ruined all my performances in the past