Women: Olympics start with World Cup final rematch

German Football
By German Football August 5, 2008 14:54

Women: Olympics start with World Cup final rematch

The quest of the German women’s football team for a gold medal starts off this Wednesday with the much anticipated rematch of last year’s FIFA World Cup final. Germany face Brazil on Wednesday in Shenyang, a metropolis of seven million citizens in the Northeast of China.

Two of the tournament’s strongest teams clash in the Olympic opener, but German coach Silvia Neid and her experienced team feel rather confident meeting FIFA’s Player of the Year, Marta. “So we face Brazil very early. Doesn’t matter to me. Gold is the goal, so we have to beat everybody anyway”, says Birgit Prinz, a three-time “FIFA PoY” herself.

Which is far from saying, that the German team does not respect a Brazil team packed with so many skillful players. But then, the reigning World- and European Champions have a lot to offer themselves. And they are eager to win Gold at the Olympics, a title that has evaded them so far. “My team has set their sight on the Olympic title, but we are very much aware at the same time, that playing Brazil is a tough challenge. Maybe one shot or one save will make the difference”, says Neid.

The players’ path cross each others every day prior to their game on Wednesday, as both teams lodge at the same hotel, the Marvelot in Shenyang. The DFB-team then play Nigeria (August 9) and North Korea (August 12), both belonging to the small circle of elite teams. “Fullfilling our dream of a gold medal will not be easy at all”, says DFB-President Dr. Theo Zwanziger.

Neid has given her team a day off on Tuesday, which some players spent by visiting the traditional Emperor’s Palace, while most went shopping downtown. Germany has yet to lose against the South Americans, having won four of the six encounters so far. On Wednesday, both teams will have to endure severe heat and humidity. For days now, temperatures in Shenyang have been high. The game, scheduled for a 5 P.M. kickoff, is expected to be played at 32 degrees Celsius.

Because of a slight knee injury, Neid needs to replace forward Conny Pohlers in the starting line-up. Some also gloomily predict a loss because of the sub-par showing at the warm-up game against Norway. Nothing worries Silvia Neid, who insists that her team “is in better shape than at the 2007 World Cup”. 16 of her 18 players won the World Championship in China last year.

But Brazil’s “selecao feminina” awaits the match with just as much eager anticipation and intensity. “We have improved since last year. This team has enough talent to win gold”, says Marta, and her team-mate Daniela adds with fervor: “We’ll play them as if it were a final.”

German Football
By German Football August 5, 2008 14:54
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