The wait is finally over and Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz will get their World Cup quest under way today when they meet Guadeloupe in a CONCACAF Caribbean Women’s Group B qualifying game on the artificial surface at the Stade Sylvio Cator.
The game scheduled for 4:00 pm (3:00 pm Jamaica time) will be the curtain-raiser for the Haiti versus Martinique feature contest at 6:30 pm (5:30 pm Jamaica time).
The Jamaicans will be looking for a positive start, but in order to do that they will have to capitalise on every opportunity presented, which would also give them the cushion of three points and a healthy goal difference to put some pressure on their other competitors.
This will be a critical move as only the group winner will progress to the final round scheduled to take place from August 25 to September 2.
Head Coach Hue Menzies has expressed confidence of victory today, but he will respect all opponents.
“We can’t take any opponent lightl. We have foreign-based players, and I am sure they have a few overseas-based players of their own and they will also be coming in with a bit of confidence on their side.
“So, until the game ends, then it is anybody’s game and we just have to go out there and execute; and we feel confident that if we go out there and do what we need to do, then we will get the results,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“We have to get a big result to see if we can get on the board early and put them under pressure. Everything could come down to the number of goals scored, so we are confident that we can go out there and get a result… we just have to score when we get our opportunities,” he added.
The Jamaicans had a six-day camp in Orlando, Florida, prior to arriving in the French-speaking country on Monday, where they focused on the fitness.
They were looking forward to getting their first proper training session here at the game venue late yesterday evening to get acclimatised, but the inclement weather in the area put a damper on that.
“Obviously we have to make do with what we have here in the hotel… we got to do some stretching exercises and technical work as well. So far everything is good, we are looking forward to a good game and I think the players are ready for tomorrow’s (today’s) contest.
“Everybody is physically healthy, but I think as we go through the tournament we will see who has niggles and knocks and see where we have to make any adjustments. But right now everybody is good,” Menzies explained.
Oshay Nelson-Lawes was the only major injury concern coming out of the camp in Orlando and she did not travel with the team to Haiti. She is expected to be replaced by another local-based player, Natasha Douglas, who is scheduled to arrive today.
Meanwhile, Menzies, along with his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, has decided on the attacking 4-3-3 formation for today’s game, saying it suits the athletic nature of most of the players within the ranks.
He will start with Chris-Ann Chambers in goal, with Konya Plummer and Allyson Swaby in the heart of defence, while they will be flanked by Lauren Silva and Dominique Bond-Flasza.
In midfield, Marlo Sweatman, Chinyelu Asher and Chantelle Thompson have been tasked, as the three-prong attack will feature Khadijah Shaw, Trudi Carter and Deneisha Blackwood.
“We are going to play a 4-3-3 formation and that’s no secret as we are a very athletic team, so we have to spread ourselves wide and try and get behind them… we are going to try and take full advantage of that. So again, if we go out there and play the way we can, then we should get the result,” he noted.
The top three finishers of the final round will then qualify for the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship, where they will vie for a spot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in France.
By: Sherdon Cowan