Typically it is Brazil’s front three that receive the bulk of the headlines and adulation. However, As Canarinhas’ hard-working display in their opening match against Australia was evidence that there is quality and composure across both the midfield and the defence.
The resolute display of a midfield quartet of Fabiana, Formiga, Ester and Maurine was key to victory in Monchengladbach although typically, many of the headlines went to the team’s fabled attacking players. However, as much as anything, it was it was the pragmatic resolve on display in the centre of the park which indicates that Brazil’s Class of 2011 have the ability to go one better than their runners-up finish of four years ago, and claim their first FIFA Women’s World Cup™.
“The defensive pressure was very big in our first game against Australia, but I think we did well, left-sided midfielder Maurine told FIFA.com. “To win the first match is a step towards our goal. I was nervous at first, but in a healthy way and you could say it was a good thing. I think I was able to make a contribution to the result in the first match. It’s good to play the first game and now we can worry about the upcoming matches.”
The demeanour of the Brazil players in the team hotel is typically one of high-spirits, a day away from a key clash against Norway on Sunday at the Arena Im Allerpark. The contest is potentially pivotal to the outcome of Group D and victory would likely confirm As Canarinhas’ progression to the next round, with the other match taking place in Bochum between Australia and Equatorial Guinea.
I was nervous at first, but in a healthy way and you could say it was a good thing.
Not that Maurine is prepared to take anything for granted. “Australia has one style of play and Norway has a different style again, so it will be a different kind of challenge for us,” she said. “We know that each match will be hard and a challenge in its own right. We have to focus on improving some areas from the Brazil match, even though Norway will provide us with a different style of opponent.” The 25-year-old also features on the left side of midfield for top USA side Western New York Flash, meaning she has the opportunity to link on the same flank with superstar team-mate Marta for both club and country. Maurine, who says she loves to push forward at every opportunity in support of Marta, is a natural right-footer but is prepared to humbly admit at being adept with both feet.
For the national team Maurine may well be a fixture on the left side, but it wasn’t always the case. The role only became her own after a goalscoring performance in that position against Germany two years ago. On that occasion Maurine’s equaliser from the left flank ensured a draw between the two teams, in front of a then European record crowd in Frankfurt. A repeat of that fixture may of course yet be repeated in the latter stage of Germany 2011.
*Little Brazil in the States *
After impressing at the 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, Maurine went from Santos, home to many of Brazil’s female elite, to a career in USA. Firstly there was a stint with Atlanta Beat, before this year linking with the Flash; the WPS’s newest club based in the women’s football stronghold of Rochester in upstate New York.
The move to the United States has helped her develop as both a footballer and as a person states Maurine. Living with national team-mate Marta this season has helped, with the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year having spent a number of years in the US. It also means the pair have continued to develop a strong relationship both on and off the field.
For now though the focus is firmly on Brazil securing a maiden world championship after narrowly failing short several times, most notably with a 2-0 defeat against Germany at China 2007. “We often talk about going so close four years ago,” said Maurine. “Now we are looking for this to be our time and are working hard towards our goal.”