SHANGHAI (AFP) - Fleet-footed Marta might have been voted player of the tournament but she is crestfallen after missing a vital penalty in the World Cup final against Germany.
The wonder striker, often compared to Ronaldinho and called 'Pele in a skirt' by the great Brazilian himself, skipped and danced her way through defences here before the rock-solid Germans blunted her edge.
But some of the gloss was taken off when she missed a second-half penalty to level Sunday's match at 1-1. Germany went on to win 2-0.
"We fought really hard to reach this final and just getting there was a historic step for us. Unfortunately we paid a heavy price for our mistakes," she admitted.
"We weren't clinical in front of goal, my luck deserted me from the penalty spot, we hit the woodwork two or three times and we didn't manage to dictate the tempo of the game.
"But that's football. Sometimes, however good you are you don't get what you want and today just wasn't our day."
Marta arrived in China with a host of accolades to her name. After being named Women's World Player in 2006, she followed up by helping the Canarinhas to gold at the recent Pan-American Games.
True to the swaggering style of her compatriots, the 21-year-old lived up to all expectations in China, using her pace and technique to full effect.
Her efforts were rewarded with the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament.
With Brazil going further than ever before at the World Cup, Marta appealed to the Brazilian football authorities to start putting their money where their mouths are and back the game more rigorously.
"We've proven that we're getting better every year despite not having a national league championship in Brazil," she told Fifa.com.
"The players do everything in their power to keep playing. Some have a club side, others don't and train by themselves.
"I think that if there were more incentives and support available then Brazil could go even further.
"Now more than ever the Brazilian authorities need to do something for us in return, so we can take on the big teams like Germany and the USA on an equal footing. Those teams have the full support of their countries."
She added that she hoped her performances would encourage young girls all over the world to take up the game to help lift it to another level.
"I'd say to them that if they have a dream, if they enjoy football and really want to play, then they shouldn't give up," she said.
"Women's football can be a struggle, but us Brazilians are here fighting to open up more opportunities and smooth the path for them."
|Coach: S. Neid|
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