Friday, September 28, 2007

Breathtaking Brazil

YESTERDAY was a beautiful day for the round ball game. On the back of Barcelona’s flowing show in the morning, I could not believe my eyes when watching the Brazilian women’s national team in last night’s stunning 4-0 semi final win over world number one, the United States. Breathtaking.

It’s fair to say I, like many, have been blown away by the standard of this women’s world cup, and last night’s performance was just another classic from a nation that continues to put a smile on the faces of football followers around the world.

Some of the skill displayed by the likes of Marta (in particular), Daniela and Cristiane was the sort of stuff you rarely see from the men these days, and if you want to have a look for yourself, then check out the highlights via the official site.

Yes, the US had a player sent off, yes their manager Greg Ryan erred in selecting veteran Briana Scurry over regular custodian Hope Solo, but nothing could have stopped the Samba girls in such fine form.

Talk about lighting it up when it most matters.

Little wonder Craig Foster was waxing so lyrically, and fellow blogger Hamish has written a piece this morning extending the virtues of the women’s game, and I tend to agree.

It’s wasn’t so long ago Sepp Blatter said ‘the future of the game is feminine’. If the numbers switching to the game across Australia and around the globe aren’t enough to convince, then Brazil’s performance last night most definitely should.

In my mind, it truly was a defining match for the women’s game.

Even my local grassroots club, St Josephs Rydalmere, has just, for the first time, crowned its senior player of the season, a female. Take a bow Katherine Bacha.

Meanwhile, our Matildas were among those turning heads in China, especially our pacey duo up front, Lisa De Vanna and Sarah Walsh, feed often by the wonderful left feet of Collette McCullam and Heather Garriock.

Yes, there are still a few things we need to do better tactically, but the depth is improving, and fast.

That has been the endearing hallmark of this tournament for me, the quality of many of the girls on the ball and their increasing ability to cover the ground. Brazil, for example, has pace all over the pitch, and their individual and collective technical standards are exceptional.

But as Sepp Blatter has pointed out (scroll down for his technical analysis) and all of our girls have been crying out for some time, there is an urgent need for some professional leagues around the world, and there is no reason why Australia shouldn’t be a world driver in this regard.

In the words of the great cricket correspondent Peter Roebuck, dammit, I’m a convert.


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