FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2018
- Luizao and Gisseli believe Brazil can conquer
- The left-back climbed mountains to get where she is
- The coach advocates psychological preparation and camaraderie
“She’s a giant,” Luizao raved to FIFA.com of his No6.
If that adjective’s got you imagining a hulking, snarling defender, you’re colder than ice pockets on the East Antarctic Plateau.
Left-back Gisseli stands at just 152 centimetres tall. Oh, and as her Brazil coach revealed, chuckling, “She never goes anywhere without lipstick on – even into matches!”
Gisseli’s gigantism derives from alternative sources. She bulldozes into tackles. Her marking and pressure makes wingers feel like they’re in steel shackles. And she boasts a big, infectious personality.
“She a great player, a great competitor,” continued Luizao. “She’s really tough for opponents to play against.
“And she’s a great girl to have around the squad. She’s always smiling, happy. She’s an extrovert, a real character, great for the squad.”
“Women’s football wasn’t really a thing where I’m from,” she told FIFA.com. “I didn’t even know that women’s youth national teams existed.
“I was playing futsal, but there wasn’t an opportunity for girls to play [11-a-side] football in Tocantins. I was watching the World Cup in 2014, and I said to myself, ‘One day I’ll get there’.”
Therefore, the following year, aged just 13, she left her family behind and, without even having a place to stay, trekked north to the state of Maranhao to pursue a career in football – or what some people back home had labelled a “fantasy”. Over the next couple of years she moved 2,500 kilometres south to Sao Paulo and then relocated another 900km south-west to Santa Catarina, where she now represents Chapecoense.
After all that, a trip across the Chuí Stream into Uruguay was hardly going to spook this one-of-a-kind 17-year-old, was it? Well, aside from the recurring fret over forgetting to pack her favourite cosmetic!
“I don’t go anywhere without my lipstick,” she said. “I’m always applying more, putting a different one on. I always wear it to play games.”
The first of those Luizao, who has done wonders at the reins since his promotion to principal professor three years ago, is scheming for will come against Japan on Monday. Brazil had failed to qualify for Costa Rica 2014, but under his guidance they conquered the CONMEBOL Women’s U-17 Championship in March and lifted the BRICS U-17 Cup in July.
“I’d describe this squad as a big family,” Luizao said. “All the girls are really close, on and off the pitch. Whenever a new girl has come into the squad, everybody has done a lot to make her feel welcome, at home.
“It’s a very happy squad. The girls joke around, have fun, but the second they have to learn something, train or play, they are so focused.”
Gisseli added: “There are a lot of great teams. I think our biggest rivals for the title will be Japan.
“But I believe we can win the World Cup. So does everybody in the squad. That’s what we’re going for.”
Will the Bend It Like Beckham-inspired, sterling silver trophy leave Uruguay with red lipstick on it?