Despite being Hungarian, one half of my heart beats for Brazil, also I am writing these lines from the coastal side of the Brazilian country, so it was a very sad moment for me, when yesterday Brazil, the title defender failed against Romania in the 1/8finals of the World Cup in Denmark.
Why did the title defender fail ? First of all, Brazil won its respective group in the Preliminaries, but had three tough clashes, two victories and one draw were on the account. In those games the Selecao has often been critized for its game, Brazil has never showed an impressive performance, always won thanks to extraordinary play of some individual(s) which is absolutely fine at the end of the day.
What went wrong in the game against Romania ? Certainly for the explanation you need to go back a couple of years, when the national team won the World Cup in Serbia in 2013.
At that time a big group of the actual players trained together for several years in HYPO NÖ, an Austrian club participating in the Champions League. In the Season 2013/2014, the year they dominated and won the World Cup, the club has been coached by Morten Soubak who trained the girls twice a day and could observe their condition day-by-day, also national team preparations happened at the Austrian club with the infrastructures every one has known and used for years on a daily level.
After winning the World Cup, almost everyone went on on to another Top European clubs and this form of the preparation (very unique in top sports) was not available for the National Team any more.
Certainly, many factors gave head-achte to head coach Soubak and second coach Alex ahead of the actual World Cup.
One of them was Brazil’s actual preparation, a Four Nations tournament in the capital Brasilia that ended up as a disaster.
Argentina, Slovenia and Serbia were invited for a six games weekend, but due to unprofessional organization several of the games were cancelled, either before or during (!) the actual matches. The reason was rain and humidity on the court that made the games dangerous and impossible to let happen. An interesting side fact is that the same happened for another sport years ago in the very same hall, the Ginasio Nilson Nelson – no one cared to resolve the problems ever since.
At the end of the weekend, Brazil did play a quarter and a full game, which is a disastrous way for a Champion to prepare…
Furthermore, it is also to question, why Brazil has not prepared in Europe where most of their players are living and playing. But let us focus now on the players and several positions.
Eduarda Amorim, the actual World Handball Player of the Year has not reached 100% condition yet after her injury and rehabilitation. She is one of the main pillars of the Brazilian defence and attack. She did her utmost and performed over expectation, but it was not enough to overcome Romania in the 1/8finals.
The team is way too dependend on its playmaker Ana-Paula Rodrigues who played a solid tournament but lacked support of the other players.
Deonise Cavaleiro couldn’t bring her usual level during the Championship, especially missed were her breakthroughs in the 1/8finals, when Romania acted more openly in defence.
Her replacement Fran came up for that and often succeeded in either goals or in 7-metres. But she couldn’t be an equal replacement either in the other games.
In the last years she has performed at the Austrian Hypo NÖ with strong games in the Champions League and in the Cupwinners Cup, but this year she returned to her native country Brazil. A country that lacks a professional league, therefore lacks top players and strong games. For her future it is strongly adviced to return to Europe to gather more experience and battle against quality players and clubs.
Focusing on the Brazilian game, the team is way too focused on the center, just seldomly plays with the wings and pivot. The game and the decisions are often dependend on the unorthodox style of Ana-Paula Rodrigues.
About the wings, Jessica returned to the team and brought some positive moments to help Ale who wasn’t able to perform as in the two previous World Cups, had a bad quote from the wing and was not as successful as earlier from the 7m line.
Also, Samira Rocha as left wing was missing due to injury. Her replacement Larissa is after Fran the closest to get integrated to the team, for her age she shone as a positive surprise, the future is definitely hers.
Coach Morten Soubak wasn’t able yet to integrate new players to the team. Larissa and Fran are good examples, but Bruna, Tamires and Amanda all need more time, which was not enough for the World Cup, but there is certainly time until Rio 2016. that will be one of the keys to succeed at the Olympic Games.
Also, with Duda not 100% fit yet, Brazil lacks of a confident shooter from the 9 m line.
Both pivots Dara and Dani are over their zenit, with their experience and team spirit they can massively contribute to the team, however Brazil would have needed a young pivot with skills to be more effective on the line.
However, the new generation doesnt show yet as talented players as Dani, Dara, Ale, Duda and more. The available young gems shall be exported asap to Europe to get proper education in handball and to build them to top athletes like Hypo NÖ did with Ale and Dani.
Only the goalkeepers showed extraordinary performance during the World Cup, here Brazil is one of the strongest in the World.
These all will definitely make coach Morten and second coach Alex busy in the upcoming six months until the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
I believe they can succeed at home, the Olympic Games being the last tournament for many of the girls.
Fingers crossed and Raca Brazil !!
Mark Hegedüs (the author worked for many years with several players and coach Morten Soubak at HYPO NÖ)