RIO DE JANEIRO: Sara Dabritz is steadily progressing up the women’s world football ladder and all the signs are that the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are just another step onwards and upwards.

Dabritz, who has a gold medal in her sights with Germany against Sweden in Maracana, caught the eye initially in 2012 at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan.

Other players have proven the U-17 Cup an ideal springboard. Examples include Alexandra Popp and Dzsenifer Marozsan.

Dabritz is now a cornerstone of coach Silvia Neid’s side herself, and is playing alongside her idols in their quest for a title.

Neid said: “Sara’s developed extremely well in all areas. She’s shown that progress in impressive style at the Olympics and has performed very well.”

That form has translated into goals. Dabritz has scored three times so far in Brazil, most recently in the semi-final against Canada.

She said: “It was crucial because that goal made it 2-0, which gave us much more security. It was important in terms of the flow of the game too, because Canada were putting us under pressure. It really did us good.

No relaxation

“But even at 2-0 you can’t ease off. Things happen so quickly in football. If Canada had scored then we’d probably have lost our way a bit. It was good that we kept them out. We defended superbly throughout the entire game and towards the end we sat back a little bit more as Canada pressed. But we withstood their pressure.”

The Bayern Munich star is well aware what it takes to win titles. In 2013 she helped Germany win the European Championship and the following year she was triumphant at the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada.

The fact that she is now participating at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament is the proverbial icing on the cake.

“The Olympics are hugely significant for me,” Dabritz said. “Every young player aims to play in the senior national team one day and to take part in a major tournament. The Olympics are something completely different because it’s the biggest sporting event in the world. It’s very special to be here.

“We’ll be in the Olympic Village and to be able to see how it all works is obviously fantastic. But we’re focusing on the match. We’ve only got two days to recover. It’s unbelievable to think that we’ll be playing at the Maracana.

“That was our aim during our preparations for the tournament. We had this objective and this dream and now we’ve fulfilled it. Now we want to win the game.”