RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Adding U.S. mental strength and Swedish organisation to Brazilian talent and flair is a promising recipe for future success, the new coach of the Brazil women’s team said on Tuesday.
Pia Sundhage, who has coached both the U.S. and her native Sweden, became the first foreigner to manage a Brazil national side when she signed a two-year contract earlier this week.
The 59-year old told reporters at an introductory news conference that her experience at international level, added to Brazil’s unrivalled natural talent, were a potentially rewarding mix.
“I’d add the American mentality, they don’t play 90 minutes, they play 92 minutes,” Sundhage said. “Even though they have the biggest egos, they have the best players. I want that to be contagious.
“In Sweden we are good at defending and organisation so if I can bring the best part of the U.S. and the best part of Sweden to this fantastic team then I think this will be an interesting journey.”
Sundhage, who quit as a coach at the Swedish FA to come to Brazil, is one of the most experienced in women’s football, having led the United States to Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012 and her native Sweden to the silver medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
In replacing former coach Vadao, who was removed after Brazil were knocked out the World Cup in the last-16 stage last month, Sundhage became the second woman to lead Brazil’s women’s squad.
She was welcomed in Rio by men’s coach Tite and messages of support from veterans such as Marta and Cristiane.
However, she dodged questions over the dismissal of Brazil’s first female coach Emily Lima, whose sacking in 2017 received widespread criticism and led some players to threaten never to play for the team again.
She also said she was not bothered by the organisational insecurity or lack of time customarily afforded Brazilian managers.
“It is a privilege to play under pressure,” a smiling Sundhage said.
“I almost cried (when I visited the Brazilian training camp). I was standing on the penalty spot and I saw boys training, great coaches doing great things and at that specific moment I was thinking I have been all over the world but I have never experienced anything like this before.
“For my football heart it was something special. It was difficult to contain my tears.”
(Writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Toby Davis)