U-20s upbeat as they depart for Florida camp
JAMAICA'S Under-20 female footballers are scheduled to depart the island today en route to Florida for a one-week camp before embarking on what could be a historic World Cup qualification in the Cayman Islands between January 9-19.
Jamaica, who emerged as Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 Women's champion in October, will be seeking to secure one of three
CONCACAF spots to the World Cup set for Canada in August.
Jamaica is drawn in Group A alongside Costa Rica, Guatemala and the USA, while Group B consists of host Cayman Islands, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras.
Head coach Vin Blaine told the Jamaica Observer that several members of the team based in USA and Canada will join the camp in Florida where they will be engaged in two practice games.
"Half of the team is here and half will meet us in Florida. We will be in a camp where we will play against two All-Star selected teams, no clubs or anything, just a little scrimmage," Blaine pointed out.
In the Cayman play-offs, Jamaica will play on day one, January 9, against Guatemala and unlike the recently held CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in Montego Bay, three countries (not two) will qualify for the World Cup, giving rise to hopes that the senior Girls can clinch a qualifying spot.
"I am more optimistic about this team than the Under-17s. They have a better chance now because of the number of spots that they have and we don't have to face one of the powerhouses in the region in Canada," he noted.
"Our main concern in our group is Costa Rica. We will have to get by them to make it to the semi-final," Blaine added.
The Reggae Girlz are heading into the competition as Caribbean champions after dispatching fierce rivals Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in October.
That team will be significantly strengthened by several players who didn't participate in the last qualifying round in the skilful Trudi Carter, plus overseas-based Torianna Patterson, Myjnairii Perkins and Alika Keene.
Canadian-based midfielder Simone Wark and forward Alexa Allen of Auburn University in the US are the two newcomers to the squad.
Khadija Shaw head a powerful squad that includes Taylor Grant, Mackenzie Marsh, Cachet Lue, Konya Plummer, Oshay Lawes, Marlo Sweatman, Courtney Douglas, Imani Richards, Keona Simmonds, Chris-Ann Chambers, Nicole Harris, Kayla Gray and Jorja Hughes.