Sport

Burrell talks up Reggae Girlz' chances for FIFA World Cup

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, August 31, 2014    

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JAMAICA Football Federation (JFF) president Captain Horace Burrell is talking up the Reggae Girlz chances of qualifying for the 2015 Women's FIFA World Cup. However, he cautioned that some technical aspects have to be fine-tuned for the dream to become a reality.

By virtue of their second-place finish at the just-ended Women's Caribbean Football Union (CFU) tournament in Trinidad & Tobago, the Jamaicans advanced to the CONCACAF stage of World Cup qualifying, to be held in the United States later this year.

"We have qualified for the CONCACAF play-off and we have a great chance of making it through to the World Cup finals, which would be a first for a Caribbean team," he said at last Tuesday's congratulatory reception held for the Girlz in Trinidad's capital of Port of Spain.

"Certainly we need to improve on the technical aspect and already I've had discussions to get additional training and the [Bob] Marley Foundation is going to be helping with the means," Burrell told the Sunday Observer.

CFU champions T&T, third-placed Haiti and fourth-placed Martinique are the other teams to progress from the Caribbean. United States and Mexico, who both received byes, and Central American qualifiers Costa Rica and Guatemala will also feature in the CONCACAF round. The top three teams from the region automatically qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth enters a play-off against a South American country. Canada will not compete at the CONCACAF phase, because as hosts, they are already qualified to the World Cup.

The CONCACAF round is scheduled to run from October 15 to 26. RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC, Toyota Park in Illinois, Sporting Park in Kansas and PPL Park in Pennsylvania are the four venues set to host matches. The group draw is set for this Friday in Miami, Florida.

Ahead of travelling to Trinidad for the CFU tournament, the Jamaican footballers had a two-week camp in Miami, which was organised and funded through the efforts of Cedella Marley, the JFF's global ambassador for the women's programme. There was a similar move ahead of the Caribbean Cup qualifiers in June.

Noting that another preparation camp is in the pipeline, Burrell added that he is also seeking to play "high-profile friendly" international matches against counterparts in CONCACAF and South America.

The JFF boss was in the stands for the CFU final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. He praised the Jamaicans for their valiant show, despite losing 0-1 to the hosts.

"In a tournament like that, it was not easy. Playing Trinidad at their home is in itself a challenging task and with a little bit of luck, our girls would have walked away with victory. I have to say congratulations to the players and staff for having qualified [for the CONCACAF round].

"When you look at where we were a few years ago and compare that with where we are today, you have to feel certainly that we have achieved a considerable amount of success."

He continued: "What can I say about Cedella Marley and the Marley foundation? Their initiative is just incredible, to say the least. They have made it possible to get proper training, proper nutrition and proper exposure in terms of the physical side of things. I have never seen this kind of effort placed where women's football is concerned and I think something great is about to happen for women's football. I'm hoping some successful Jamaican companies take a page out of the Marleys' book."

Before June this year, the senior women's team had not taken part in competitive action since the final stage of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Games. The dormant spell was attributed to lack of funding.

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