PARIS (AP) — Brazil played coy on the status of star player Marta ahead of its Women’s World Cup match against Australia, a team reeling from a first-round upset and unsure if it will face the six-time FIFA Player of the Year.
Marta did not play in Brazil’s opening game against Jamaica because of a left thigh injury, but the forward has been transitioned from medical treatment to training. She got in two days of practice ahead of Thursday’s Group C game at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier.
“Marta went back to training, we are still going to have a meeting to see how she feels and make a decision,” said Brazil coach Vadao. “We’ve increased the training bit by bit until we have certainty. We are going through the motions with Marta.
“Will she be in the pitch? Probably. But we haven’t had a chance to make a decision yet.”
Even without Marta, Brazil rolled to a 3-0 opening game win over Jamaica to end a nine-game losing streak. Cristiane became the oldest player to notch a hat-trick at the World Cup when the 34-year-old striker scored on a header, a tap-in and a free-kick.
She claimed the record from Cristiano Ronaldo, who was 33 when he scored a hat-trick for Portugal against Spain in last year’s World Cup.
Australia, meanwhile, is trying to regroup after its upset loss to Italy in its opening game. Italy surprised the Matildas with a goal in stoppage time and coach Ante Milicic is under pressure against Brazil.
“Whether we are favorites or underdogs does not concern me,” Milicic said.
But defender Steph Catley promised the late upset to Italy has spurred Australia for a strong showing.
“When you lose a game like that, it really lights something inside that you don’t want that to happen again,” Catley said. “I believe we’ll have a strong reaction against Brazil.”
SOUTH AFRICA-CHINA: No one expects South Africa to beat China in a Group B match at Parc des Princes in Paris. South Africa is competing in its first women’s World Cup and is the lowest-ranked team in the tournament.
Despite a 3-1 loss to Spain in its World Cup opener, the South Africa squad considers itself victorious in simply being part of the field.
“We want to make sure we are never forgotten,” said South Africa coach Desiree Ellis, who captained her country during a nine-year international career.
China was competitive in its opening round match against Germany but eventually wilted in a 1-0 defeat to the second-ranked team in the world. The loss was just China’s second defeat in an opening match at a World Cup, but it was the second consecutive tournament that China dropped its first match.
It has created questions about the quality of the Chinese team, and the team might have two injuries against South Africa. Jiahui Lou was taken off in the first half with an ankle injury against Germany and Yao Wei was removed from the game at halftime.
RECAPPING WEDNESDAY: France recovered from a terrible own goal to beat Norway 2-1 as the host nation remained undefeated. Eugenie Le Sommer scored the winner from the penalty spot in the 72nd minute after video review determined Ingrid Syrstad Engen had fouled Marion Torrent in the area. Valerie Gauvin, benched in France’s opening 4-0 win over South Korea, broke the deadlock after halftime but Norway tied when Wendie Renard turned a cross into her own net. Renard, considered one of the best defenders in the world, appeared to be in tears as she raised her face to the sky in anguish. … Asisat Oshoala became the second Nigerian player to score in two different Women’s World Cup tournaments with a late goal in a 2-0 victory over South Korea in Group A. Nigeria took a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute at Stade des Alpes when South Korea’s Kim Do-yeon volleyed the ball into her own net. The two own-goals so far in this tournament have both featured Nigeria, which is the first team to both score and concede an own-goal at the same Women’s World Cup since the United States in 1999. … Germany held on for a 1-0 victory over Spain in which the squad was clearly tense in pursuit of a third world title. The Germans are finding it far from easy going at the start of Group B, relying on Sara Däbritz’s goal in the 42nd minute against the run of play to prevail against the skillful Spanish. …