The team of Brazil
2018 june 21.
Coach: Cristiano Rocha
Key Players: Renata Arruda (Goalkeeper), Gabriela Clausson Bitolo (Right Back)
Qualification for Hungary 2018: 2018 Women’s Junior Pan American Championship, Goiania (BRA) – Winners
History in Tournament: 1977-89: DNQ, 1991: 15th, 1993: 13th, 1995: 13th, 1997: 12th, 1999: 12th, 2001: 13th, 2003: 15th, 2005: 9th, 2008: 9th, 2010: 12th, 2012: 12th, 2014: 15th, 2016: 11th
From 21-25 March, Brazil organised the Women’s Junior Pan American Championship in Goiania. Coached by Cristiano Rocha, the hosts won their five matches – against Paraguay, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Chile and Argentina – and raised another continental trophy.
Rocha knows his squad perfectly, as he was their coach at the 2016 IHF Women’s Youth (U18) World Championship in Slovakia, where they ranked 12th. On that occasion, it was clear that their biggest prospect was goalkeeper Renata Arruda, who ended the competition with a 39.2% save rate. These days the 19-year-old player shines in Mavi Nuevas Tecnologias La Calzada, at Spain’s Liga Guerreras Iberdrola. She is adored by the club’s fans, who encourage her to go after her dreams. “My dream is to play at the Olympics and a World Championship with Brazil. But there is a time for everything, and now I’m doing my part. If one day all that comes, it will be because I earned it,” Renata says.
Esporte Clube Pinheiros right wing Maria Eduarda Santos also had an important role at Slovakia 2016 – she scored 26 goals – and at the last Pan American Championship, where she was the top scorer with 36 goals. Her teammate at the ‘Paulista’ club Gabriela Bitolo, however, could not be part of the Brazilian team in Goiania due to an ACL injury from which she is now recovered. That is great news for Rocha, who considers the right back an essential player.
At the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship, Brazil will play in a strong Group A together with the hosts Hungary, Norway, Montenegro, Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire. “It’s a very difficult group, coming from traditional handball schools in the world. It’s hard for Pan American teams when the draw places us with four European nations, therefore it will be tough for us to make it to the eighth-finals,” analyses Cristiano.
For Brazil’s head coach, their “major strength is that we work a lot of offensive options, trying to create diverse scenarios against the opponents we may meet. On the other hand, we could be affected by the physical condition of some important players in the team.”
In preparation for the U20 World Championship, the Pan American champions will organise some training matches against local first-division teams to help them achieve their goals. According to Rocha, that would be qualifying for the knock-out stage, although “it would be something big to see Brazil among the best eight in the world.”
Group at Hungary 2018:
Group A: Hungary, Norway, Montenegro, Brazil, Portugal, Côte d’Ivoire
Games at Hungary 2018:
All times local
Sunday 1 July: HUN-BRA (18:00)
Wednesday 4 July: BRA-NOR (20:00)
Thursday 5 July: BRA-POR (20:00)
Saturday 7 July: CIV-BRA (17:30)
Sunday 8 July: MNE-BRA (20:00)