HANGZHOU, China (AFP) - Self-belief has pushed Brazil to the brink of World Cup glory as the Samba Girls go in search of a title won by their more famous male counterparts five times.
Few would have wagered money on Brazil at the beginning of the tournament but their silky skills and unselfish teamwork have not only won over the Chinese fans but driven them further than they have ever been before.
Coach Jorge Barcellos said their philosophy has always been never-say-die.
"In football, nothing is impossible -- that's what I'm always telling my players," he said after his side stunned double champions the United States in the semi-finals on Thursday.
Their 4-0 victory sets up a final in Shanghai on Sunday against title-holders Germany, who would have been uneasy spectators as stylish but aggressive Brazil tore apart the top-ranked Americans.
World Player of the Year Marta scored two goals, with some sublime individual skills underlining why she is considered the best in the business.
But both Marta and Barcellos say Brazil's trademark attractive football is just a bonus as the ominous Germans, who have yet to concede a goal here, loom.
"For me, it is always more important to win the match than to play beautiful football," said Barcellos. "Germany is a very strong team and we need to make plans.
"Now, we are still nothing and we still have a long way to go to beat Germany in the final."
Marta, now the tournament's leading scorer on seven goals, was equally dismissive of individual showmanship, despite displaying plenty against the Americans.
"We are creating history by making the final and that is not down to me, it is down to a great performance by our team," she said.
"My goal is always to be the best and that is why I work so hard, but without my teammates I would be nothing."
The Auriverde are the only side from South America to have appeared at every women's World Cup since its inception in 1991, and Barcellos believes this could be the start of a golden era for Brazilian women.
"We have so many talented players in Brazil," he said. "We still have a lot of young players with great potential."
Their performance here is impressive after they lost a World Cup qualifying game in the lead-up to the tournament for the first time in their history.
In doing so, they also gave away their South American crown to Argentina.
That hit them hard and winning here is also about redressing that balance and repairing their battered pride.
Barcellos said the steely resolve of his players since that defeat has shone through in China.
"I congratulate my players not only for their performance but for their strong desire to win," he said.
"You can see that desire in their aggressive play."
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|Coach: G. Ryan|
for S. Cox 46'
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