Jamaica ensured there would be no fairytale ending to Marta’s World Cup career as they strangled Brazil 0-0 to reach the last 16 on Wednesday and condemn the South Americans to their earliest exit since 1995. It was heartbreak for the legendary Brazilian attacker Marta, who at age 37 has said this sixth World Cup would be her last. “Not even in my worst nightmares was it the World Cup I dreamed of,” she said, looking as shellshocked as she was upset.
But it was joy in Melbourne for a Jamaica team who are yet to concede at the tournament and are into the knockout rounds for the first time in their history.
Lorne Donaldson’s unbeaten side, who have defied rows with their federation to get this far, will most likely meet Colombia next after finishing second in the group behind France.
“This is one of the best days I’ve ever had in my life,” Donaldson said.
“To see a country like Jamaica be able to do this, it’s unbelievable.
“The girls are doing it for the country, the country should be proud.
“We had resilience, fight. We are going into a war and we need to be ready,” he added.
“And it was a war, and we stayed in the battle.”
Jamaica’s achievement, having lost all three games in their debut World Cup in 2019, is all the more remarkable considering the tensions behind the scenes.
Donaldson’s team has been in open dispute with their football federation over a lack of support, including issues over pay and poor planning in the build-up to the World Cup.
Goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer said their run at the tournament will send a message to the bosses back home.
“We know we’ve got a point to prove and the better we do, the more pressure it creates.
“We hope they’re looking at us and taking us seriously now.”
‘Marta ends here’
Brazil had to win to be sure of going through, whereas Jamaica needed only to draw.
So it was little surprise that it was the South Americans who had the better of an attritional contest.
In front of a crowd of nearly 28,000, Brazil had much more of the ball and attempts at goal — Jamaica had none on target all game to Brazil’s five.
But for all that and with Marta starting, Jamaica were never really in serious trouble at any point in the game.
Jamaica, who held France 0-0 before getting their first-ever World Cup win with a 1-0 victory over Panama, were defending deep and in numbers.
Pia Sundhage’s Brazil, who have never won the World Cup, looked short of ideas as they went to the break goalless.
The second half was more of the same but Brazil were struggling to really create a golden chance.
Khadija Shaw, the prolific Manchester City striker and Jamaica’s undoubted star, was hardly seen as an attacking force.
Into the last 20 minutes and Jamaica showed few signs of buckling, as Brazil simply ran out of steam and ideas.
Marta said that many other teams in women’s football have simply caught up with eighth-ranked Brazil and the other sides at the top.
“We used to see teams that came to the World Cup and scored seven or eight goals, not any more,” she said.
“Women’s football has been growing and it is profitable.
“Marta ends here, there is no more World Cup for Marta.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to have one more World Cup and very happy with what is happening with women’s football in the world.”
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