After a week of great football, we’re down to the last four teams and today Street Champions representing Brazil girls, Philippines girls, Tanzania boys and Burundi boys will play the finals of the 2014 Street Child World Cup.
The Street Champions will have the honor of playing at the Estádio das Laranjeiras, the home of Fluminense FC. The stadium has huge historical importance as the ground that the Brazilian national team played their first ever game in 1914, when they beat a touring Exeter City team 2-0.
Fluminense are one of the biggest football clubs not just in Rio, but in Brazil. Along with Flamengo, Botafogo and Vasco De Gama they are one of the “big four” Rio clubs. Flamengo were founded by players breaking away from Fluminense, and as such the Flu-Fla fixture is regared as the most hotly contested derby in Brazil.
The players contesting the Street Child World Cup final will be treading the same turf as the numerous world-famous players who have played at the Estádio das Laranjeiras in Fluminense colours. The list includes 1970 FIFA World Cup winner Gerson, former Barcelona and Chelsea star Deco and Thiago Silva, who is currently regarded as one of the best defenders in the world and will be the rock in Brazil’s back four at this year’s FIFA World Cup. Fluminense has contributed the 5th most players to the Brazilian national squad since the Selecao’s first game.
Hosts Brazil girls will be determined to claim the Street Child World Cup title on home soil. They’ve only conceded one goal on the way to the final, and will have the backing of a noisy and passionate Brazilian crowd.
Their opponents Philippines will be keen to spoil the carnival, just like the did in Durban four years ago. In the 2010 Street Child World Cup Philippines beat Brazil, which was the first time a Philippines team had ever beaten a Brazil team at football of any level.
The boys final is a local derby, and a repeat of a fixture from the opening round of games. Tanzania and Burundi share a boarder, and drew 2-2 in a dramatic game on Lonier Soccer City on the first day of the tournament.
Tanzania reached the final of the 2010 Street Child World Cup, but will want to go one step further than last time around when they were beaten by India. Burundi have forged a reputation for themselves as comeback kings from their previous game against Tanzania and their incredible semi-final with Pakistan, so even if Tanzania get a lead in the final they’ll know Burundi won’t give up.
The final will be an occasion to remember, and a wonderful experience for the Street Champions who get to play at the Estádio das Laranjeiras. But Daniel, captain of Argentina, best encapsulated the mood in Rio when he was asked who he thought would win the final: “It doesn’t matter, we’re all champions by being here.”
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