Reggae Girlz take on T&T for Caribbean crown
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago — Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz are eyeing regional football glory when they lock horns with hosts Trinidad & Tobago in the final of the Caribbean Cup at the Hasely Crawford Stadium today, starting at 7:30 pm.
The third-place play-off will see Haiti battling fellow French-speaking team Martinique in the 5 o'clock kick-off at the same venue.
Merron Gordon, the Jamaica head coach, is predicting a fierce encounter between the historic rivals.
"Any sport with Jamaica playing Trinidad is going to be hard because of the rivalry between the countries. They are two proud nations," he told the Jamaica Observer ahead of yesterday's late training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The Jamaicans topped Group A to advance to the final following 4-1, 9-1 and 2-0 victories over Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Haiti, respectively. Haiti finished second with six points. Puerto Rico, third with three points, and cellar-team Bermuda — without a point — were sent packing.
Trinidad & Tobago strolled through Group B without conceding a goal, recording respective 10-0, 3-0 and 7-0 wins over St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua & Barbuda and, Martinique. The Martinique outfit were runners-up in the group with six points, while St Kitts & Nevis finished with three points and Antigua & Barbuda did not earn a solitary point.
The perception within the Jamaican camp is that the teams in Group B were generally weaker than the ones in Group A and according to Gordon, that meant it was difficult to assess how good the T&T outfit is.
"Watching them in those games, you couldn't really get a true evaluation of them because the teams they played were so weak. One thing I picked out is that, even though those teams are not athletic, the few times they got chances to apply pressure you could see that Trinidad will panic.
"Jamaica press the ball a lot, and with our pace that will pose problems for Trinidad. I also think the midfield will win the game, in terms of the transition from defence to attack and attack to defence," he said.
Jamaica captain Alicia Wilson, who is part of the coaching set-up at University of West Florida, said she is quite familiar with some of the Trinidad players. She is sure Jamaica have the tools to defeat the hosts.
"I know a lot of the players from Trinidad and two to three of them have played for the University of West Florida, so we are actually like comrades. I know the quality of their players. The Trinidad defence is not as strong as ours. We are going to exploit them and we are confident of coming out on top," she said.
There was concern after the Jamaicans conceded meekly against Puerto Rico and Bermuda, but the Reggae Girlz skipper said the display against the combative Haitians indicated that the communication kinks had been straightened out.
"Some of our defensive communication was off, but I think we fixed that going into the Haiti game where the communication was awesome. Defensively, if we hold together we'll be able to handle T&T," the central defender added.
The quartet of Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti and Martinique have already progressed to the CONCACAF stage of FIFA World Cup qualifying set for the United States from October 16-26.
Regional giants, the US and Mexico received byes to the CONCACAF round, while Costa Rica and Guatemala have advanced after the Central America qualifiers.
The Women's World Cup will be contested next year in Canada.