Pia recalls Brazil’s failure in the Women’s Cup: “We couldn’t handle the pressure” | international football

Pia recalls Brazil’s failure in the Women’s Cup: “We couldn’t handle the pressure” | international football
Pia recalls Brazil’s failure in the Women’s Cup: “We couldn’t handle the pressure” | international football
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Beating Jamaica has never been a challenge for the Brazilian women’s team. On the contrary: the first two clashes ended with easy victories of 5-0, in the 2007 Pan, and 3-0, in the 2019 World Cup. Until reaching the decisive game in the third round of Group F of last year’s World Cup.

Draw with Jamaica eliminates Brazil in the group stage of the World Cup

That one goalless draw, which eliminated Brazil in the group stage, turns six months old this Friday. For the then coach of the Brazilian team, Pia Sundhage, it is not easy to explain why a team that arrived confidently at the World Cup, with unprecedented preparation, ended up saying goodbye in such a frustrating way. In conversation with the ge about the disappointing World Cup in Brazil, the now Swiss coach believes that the obligation to beat Jamaica held the team back that night of August 2 in Melbourne.

We can’t handle the pressure. It’s different when 0-0 takes us to extra time or penalties, but the fact is we weren’t able to score. The pressure of needing to score a goal, no matter who the opponent was, made us not have precision (in our conclusions) and not be as good as we were before – said Pia, recalling Brazil’s good preparation for the World Cup.

1 of 5 Jamaica celebrates a draw with Brazil and qualification for the World Cup round of 16 — Photo: Reuters
Jamaica celebrates a draw with Brazil and qualification for the World Cup round of 16 — Photo: Reuters

– We had played well in the second half against England a few months before, we beat Germany, everyone was happy after the first game of the World Cup (4-0 over Panama) and we made a mistake against France (2-1 defeat) . But this is international football. I’m sure this team could have been successful because it’s a really good team – stated new Swiss coach.

If one lesson can be drawn from the experience in Australia, the Swedish coach believes it is the most elementary of all in the sport:

– Nothing is guaranteed. Everyone expected us to beat Jamaica, but it’s a mistake to think that way. Just look at Canada and Germany, there were a lot of disappointments – she recalls, citing two other traditional teams that fell in the group stage.

2 of 5 Pia Sundhague during Brazil’s game against Jamaica in the Women’s World Cup — Photo: Getty Images
Pia Sundhague during Brazil’s game against Jamaica in the Women’s World Cup — Photo: Getty Images

After beat Panama 4-0 in the debut, with a gala performance from Ary Borges, scorer of three goals and one assist, Brazil reached the most awaited clash: France. A match so important that it even shaped the Brazilian preparation: the coaching staff chose Brisbane, the location of the game, as their training base, avoiding losing a day of training with travel.

An insecure performance, especially in the first half, and a goal by defender Wendie Renard in the final minutes, in a childish mistake in positioning the defense in a corner, cost the team 2-1 defeat in the second round. Despite the frustration, Brazil still depended solely on themselves to qualify. It was enough to beat Jamaica.

In the 37th minute of the 2nd half – header by Wendie Renard from France against Brazil

Pia defends late changes: “It’s easy to say I made a mistake”

Criticized for taking too long to change the team, both against France and against the Jamaicans, Pia defends her strategy and says that after an adverse result, the tendency is to always look for explanations.

It’s always easy to say after 90 minutes that I made a mistake, but if we look at other games, I know I could believe in those players on the pitch. Against Australia (in 2021), it was 2-0 for them, players came on at the end and we tied. The same thing happened against England (in the Finals, in 2023) – recalled the former Brazil coach.

Pia regrets that the Brazilian team is still not able to take advantage of its full offensive potential.

We had such good preparation, everything was very well done. If I could do something different, I think I would have spent more time training shots on goal. We created chances, but we didn’t know how to take advantage.

— Pia Sundhage, former coach of the Brazilian women’s national team

Playing against the best is the key, says Pia

Brazil’s two eliminations under Pia Sundhage in major competitions were 0-0 draws. In 2021, at the Tokyo Olympic Games, the team fell in the quarter-finals, defeated on penalties to Canada. After the tournament, the coaching staff began to rely on psychological support for the players, but in the coach’s opinion, the path to learning to deal with the pressure of major competitions also passes through the field.

– It takes time, and you need to have a little luck. Instead of talking about pressure, the best thing is to play against the best teams, and find players who know how to deal with pressure. That’s the key, compete and play as hard as you can at the highest level.

3 of 5 Coach Pia Sundhage at the Brazilian team training in Brisbane — Photo: Thais Magalhães/CBF
Coach Pia Sundhage at the Brazilian team training in Brisbane — Photo: Thais Magalhães/CBF

After the elimination, Pia left Australia and went to rest for a few weeks in Sweden. Despite speculation about her possible dismissal, she returned to Brazil at the end of August willing to remain with the national team until the end of her contract, at the Paris Olympic Games.

When I left Australia I was determined to continue because we have a great team, we just weren’t lucky.

— Pia Sundhage, about her intention to remain in the Brazilian team after the World Cup

Without wanting to go into details of the meeting with the president of the CBF, Ednaldo Rodrigues, the coach only regretted his departure.

– President Ednaldo was in Australia for the first two games and was very happy with our work. I had positive messages from the president. But when I returned to Brazil, he was already different, that’s why I was surprised by his dismissal. But that’s how it is.

4 of 5 Marta greets Pia Sundhage after substitution in Jamaica x Brazil — Photo: REUTERS/Hannah Mckay
Marta greets Pia Sundhage after substitution in Jamaica x Brazil — Photo: REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

Pia wanted a better farewell to Formiga: “I’m sorry”

Pia Sundhage spent almost five months without working, until she was announced on January 15th as Switzerland’s new coach. Brazil, now under the command of Arthur Elias, has already played five friendly matches in preparation for the Paris Olympics, against Canada (two), Japan (two) and Nicaragua.

After changing the command, shirt 10 Marta, who only started against Jamaica in the World Cup, told Esporte Espetacular that she had been frustrated for having played for a short time and out of the ideal position in the World Cup. Pia did not want to elaborate on the subject.

I have no comments on that, what I can say is what she told me before the World Cup: “You can put me wherever you want, I can play in any position for Brazil, on the left, in attack, wherever.” If she didn’t feel happy, I’m just sorry.

— Pia Sundhage, former coach of the Brazilian women’s national team

Marta talks about frustrations from the last women’s World Cup

Of the four years she spent in Brazil, Pia regrets the structural problems, such as limited travel to observe players in Europe, and has one regret: midfielder Formiga’s farewell game, in November 2021, in a 6-1 victory over India, at the Arena da Amazônia, in Manaus, with the honoree only entering the 33rd minute of the second half, due to a muscle problem.

– If you look at what she did for the national team, I think they could have done a better job in her farewell game. I’m sorry about that.

End of an era: Formiga says goodbye to the Brazilian team against India

Praise for Kerolin, Ary Borges and Debinha

Regarding the future of the Brazilian team, Pia maintains her confidence in Brazil’s new generation, highlighting two players:

– Kerolin was unlucky now, she just suffered an ACL rupture, she is the player who has the best chance of becoming an international star. And she also has Ary Borges. These two have great potential. But I think that the others, together, representing Brazil, if they continue like this, they will be great players.

5 of 5 Pia Sundhage, in conversation with the players after Brazil’s defeat in the Women’s World Cup opener — Photo: Elsa/FIFA via Getty Images
Pia Sundhage, in conversation with the players after Brazil’s defeat in the Women’s World Cup opener — Photo: Elsa/FIFA via Getty Images

Asked about her memory of her time in Brazil, Pia did not choose any of the words or songs she learned from the players. She prefers to keep in her memory what united her to the country: football.

– I have so many memories. But for me it’s a game situation: Kerolin playing for Debinha to score a goal, I don’t remember against whom. The way Debinha ran, passing the players. It was a typical Brazilian football move, with all its technique and speed. This is rare.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Pia recalls Brazils failure Womens Cup couldnt handle pressure international football

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