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Marta heads into Brazil’s final group game of Women’s World Cup tearfully reflecting on her legacy – WTOP News

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Marta arrived at her sixth Women’s World Cup expecting to go deep into the tournament.…

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Marta arrived at her sixth Women’s World Cup expecting to go deep into the tournament. Then a loss to France put Brazil in jeopardy of being eliminated in group play, and one of the greatest players has been forced to examine her own legacy.

The veteran forward, who has been used sparingly in this tournament, is trying to become the first player, female or male, to score in six different World Cups.

She could get a chance Wednesday against Jamaica in the Group H finale played in Melbourne, where a win would guarantee the Selecao advance to the knockout round for their seventh consecutive World Cup.

A draw would put Brazil’s fate in the outcome of France’s game against Panama, and, possibly end Marta’s World Cup career. She began to cry Tuesday when asked about her legacy.

“When I started playing I didn’t have an idol, a female idol,” she said through a translator. “You guys didn’t show any female games. How was I supposed to understand that I could arrive at a national team and become a reference?”

Now she’s 37 and supporters regularly stop her to tell her their daughter strives to be like Marta.

“I am very happy to see all of this now because 20 years ago, nobody knew Marta,” she said. “It was my first World Cup. Twenty years later, we have become the reference for many women all over the world, not only in football, in journalism as well, we see many women journalists here today.”

Marta didn’t expect to be so reflective this early in the tournament. But she’s forced to face it because the World Cup could end for Brazil much earlier than expected.

“Of course, (it) is going to be a nervous game because it is (like) a knockout game — that started a little bit earlier than we expected,” she said. “But I believe we have a very qualified team. When we’re playing a World Cup, we have to be prepared for everything. Of course, my experience and other players that have already experienced this moment, we’re going to do our best to keep our team confident.”

Brazil coach Pia Sundhage wouldn’t say if Marta will be in the starting lineup against Jamaica, or be used as a late substitute. Marta did not start in a 4-0 win over the Panama or in the loss to France.

“You will see who is in the starting lineup. This old lady, she’s important for all of us with all the experience she has,” Sundhage said. “The game plan will be important against Jamaica because it’s now or ever. We have the chance to play some great football and try to win the game.”

Jamaica is expecting Brazil to have made major adjustments following its loss to France. Jamaica, which played to a scoreless draw against France and and earned a 1-0 win over Panama, can reach the knockout stage with a win or draw over Brazil. Tie-breakers would come into play if the Reggae Girlz lose, but Panama beats France.

“It’s a cat and mouse came. There’s going to be adjustments,” Jamaica coach Lorne Donaldson said. “We’re going to try to mimic some stuff, but we’re not France. They’re totally different from us. France’s tactics worked, and we’re not going to use the tactics France used. We’re going to use the tactics that our players are capable of doing.”

Jamaica, playing in its second World Cup, will have Bunny Shaw back in the lineup and Donaldson said the veteran forward’s return is enormous for the team.

“I don’t know if I need a description. She’s a big target. I’ll call her a weapon,” Donaldson said. “She scores goals, she’s the all-time leading goal scorer in Jamaica, men’s or women’s, and I think that speaks for itself. She’s a very technical player, just a solid footballer.”

PANAMA-FRANCE

France goes into its last Group F match needing only a draw with Panama to advance.

But even a loss in Sydney on Wednesday would get Les Bleus into the next round if Jamaica beats Brazil in a game being played simultaneously in Melbourne. Panama, playing in its first World Cup, has already been eliminated following losses to Brazil and Jamaica.

Panama has lost its last four international matches. France, ranked fifth in the world by FIFA, has seven wins and two draws in its last 10 international matches.

SOUTH AFRICA-ITALY

South Africa and Italy square off with a spot in the round of 16 up for grabs in a Group G finale played in Wellington.

Italy, with a win over Argentina but a loss to Sweden, sits second in the group and can advance to the round of 16 with a win over South Africa. A draw would be enough if Sweden beats Argentina, but a loss to South Africa would send the Italians home.

South Africa has to beat Italy to advance. A loss or draw leaves South Africa’s fate to the result of Argentina’s match against Sweden.

The Banyana Banyana picked up their first-ever point at the World Cup with a 2-2 draw against Argentina, but an opening game 2-1 loss to Sweden has them really needing their first win the tournament.

ARGENTINA-SWEDEN

Sweden can use its final Group G game as a warmup because the Swedes have already locked themselves into the round of 16.

Argentina’s only direct route into the next round is a victory, coupled with a draw between South Africa and Italy.

Sweden has had a relatively smooth run with a 2-1 win over South Africa, followed by a 5-0 win over Italy. Argentina lost 1-0 to Italy in the opening game, then played South Africa to a 2-2 draw.

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AP World Cup coverage:

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