efe-epaRio de Janeiro

The head coach of Brazil's women's national soccer team said here Thursday that his squad remains a favorite at the upcoming Women's World Cup despite a historically bad stretch of nine consecutive losses.

"We're very optimistic about the possibility of having a great campaign and capturing the much-desired world title," Oswaldo Alvarez, commonly known as Vadao, said in a press conference in which he unveiled his 23-player roster for next month's Women's World Cup in France.

His final 23-player squad includes 33-year-old forward Marta, the team's captain and a six-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award; and fellow veterans Formiga and Cristiane.

"We have athletes of singular quality who are capable of solving problems through individual playmaking," Vadao said.

"Our goal is always to win and we want the title," he said, recalling that Brazil - a perennial favorite - has never won the championship at women's soccer's showcase event, which gets under way on June 7.

Vadao noted that many more teams than usual are capable of winning the title this year but insisted that Brazil remains on that list. He also pointed out that many of the favorites will have to face off against one another during the tournament.

"Expectations are very high, and our optimism is not because of our recent results but because of what we have in mind and what we talked about with the players after the last defeat" on April 8 against Scotland, he said.

Before they can dream of the title, Brazil will have to first snap a team-worst nine-match losing streak, with most of the defeats coming in friendlies and an invitational event.

The Selecao's last victory came against Japan in July 2018 in the Tournament of Nations.

The streak of losses began with a 4-1 defeat to the US in the 2018 Tournament of Nations and has also included a 1-0 defeat against Canada, as well as two losses to England (2-1 and 1-0) and one apiece to France (3-1), Japan (3-1), Spain (2-1) and Scotland (1-0).

"All of those losses were away from home against teams that are among the 10 best in the world," while Brazil was "without some of our best players," Vadao said.

"It's not an excuse, but it's something you have to keep in mind."

Vadao said he is confident his squad will get back on track during a 15-day period starting May 22 in Portugal, where the players will train before departing for France.

"It might seem like not much time to prepare, but for us it's a lot. We've never had so much time with all the starters together, and in Portugal we'll be able to work on a lot of things that we're lacking," the coach added.

Referring to Brazil's opponents in the initial group phase of the Women's World Cup, Vadao said all have what it takes to advance to the tournament's round of 16 and cannot be taken lightly.

Brazil will debut in Group C against Jamaica on June 9 in Grenoble before taking on Australia four days later in Montpellier and Italy on June 18 in Valenciennes.

"Jamaica is the big surprise. They'd never participated in a World Cup, but we saw several of their most recent matches and discovered a team that has the characteristics of an African side. They're very strong and fast and have a lot of height. Their game is geared around a very tall forward who is their go-to player," Vadao said.

Referring to Australia, the head coach said their results in World Cup qualifying and in recent friendlies make them one of the tournament's top favorites.

Italy, meanwhile, have invested heavily in women's soccer and made drastic improvements over the past two or three years, Vadao said, adding that they play in a typically Italian style, using a compact defense and looking to attack with quick passes down the wings.

The United States, who are the defending Women's World Cup champions, and host nation France are regarded as the top contenders for the title.

cm/mc