“This team is surprising me each and every day because we have six players who have never had international experience before.”
After the final two games of round-robin play in the Football 7-a-Side competition at the BT Paralympic World Cup in Manchester on Friday (25 May), Brazil and Great Britain have advanced to Saturday’s gold-medal showdown.
The finals will take place at noon local time following the bronze-medal game between Ireland and USA at 9:00.
Brazil defeated USA 10-0 under the Manchester sun on Friday, giving a clear sign to the world that it is not one to mess with on the pitch and leaving the Americans clear in the dust.
Both Jose Guimaraes and Fabio Bordignon recorded hatricks for the winning side as head coach Paulo Cruz decided to rest several of his veteran players, knowing he had already secured a spot in the finals.
“This team is surprising me each and every day because we have six players who have never had international experience before,” Cruz said.
Jan Costa added two goals in Brazil’s win, and Ronaldo Souza and Yurig Ribeiro each added a score. Jorge Silva recorded another shutout, leaving USA being outscored 20-1 in the tournament thus far.
The Brazilian squad had a big win against Beijing 2008 gold medallists Ukraine three weeks ago, and now has a tall task of facing the host nation in finals in Manchester, which defeated Ireland 7-3 on the pitch in its final game in the round-robin stage.
The British struck first against the Irish when Ibrahima Diallo struck the back of the net at the 22-minute mark, and they ended the first half with a slim 1-0 lead.
But then the home team came out even stronger in the second half, as Michael Barker scored three goals in 12 minutes, Diallo scored again twice in a six-minute span and Matt Dimbylow added a goal on top of that.
The host nation, coached by Lyndon Lynch, was just too much for Ireland to handle – a team that failed to qualify for this year’s Paralympics.
"That was a great game. I'm so happy we won and a hat-trick for me, so I was really chuffed," Barker said. "Tomorrow we want gold, and I won't be happy with anything less, so we will have to play our best game. I love the competition here and it's a great build up ahead of London."
Brazil insists it is quite happy to be facing Great Britain in the finals on Saturday.
“Of course to play against the home team is always very difficult,” Cruz said. “But I think to play against Great Britain will be good because we will have this kind of experience when we play them in the first match in London.
“If we win it would give us a small confidence to try to work harder.”