Senior Girlz itching to make strong statement on return from wilderness
SANJAY MYERS with the Reggae Girlz @ THE CFU WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS in the Dominican Republic
BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic - Jamaica embark on their journey to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup when they face minnows St Lucia today at the Estadio Panamericano in Group Five of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifiers.
Kick-off is set for 4:00 pm (3:00 pm Jamaica time).
The Jamaica coaching staff opted not to practise yesterday because the only suitable venue available -- the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal -- is "too far" from the team hotel. The team's head coach Merron Gordon contended that the travel could do more harm than good.
Boosted by the team's extensive preparation leading up to the tournament, he added that theoretical sessions and light stretching proved more advantageous yesterday.
"The journey is not worth it with the girls having fatigue when travelling that distance. It's a small bus carrying 20-something girls so that's very hard for us," Gordon told reporters.
"Getting to that venue takes an hour-and-a-half, so that's three hours to and back. It's best for us to do some recovery work and sharpen for the match.
"I'm quite confident that as long as these girls go out and execute what they have learnt, especially over the past month, that we will do well."
The Jamaica starting team will see Sweden-based Nicole McLure in goal and the quartet of captain Alicia Wilson, Sashana Campbell, Monique Pryce and Sharona Forrester in defence.
Omolyn Davis, Nicole Campbell and Jodi McGregor should start across midfield.
Yolanda Hamilton, Shakera Hamilton and Donna-Kay Henry, who is set to make her national debut, are expected to start up front.
After watching the hosts Dominican Republic thrash the St Lucians 7-0 in the group opener on Wednesday, Gordon said he is not too worried about goal difference.
Jamaica are set to battle with the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
According to the head coach, the important factor is to win both matches to top the group.
"I try to aim for three points and to top the group by winning two games. Goals will come, but I don't want to put any additional pressure on the girls. These girls are anxious to go on the field to just show Jamaica that they really belong and that this programme shouldn't have been stopped over those years," Gordon said.
The senior Reggae Girlz programme was scrapped since 2009-10 due to financial reasons and the team last featured in a tournament in 2008. But a directional change has ensured the programme's return.
Only the top country in the three-team group is assured of advancing to the CFU Women's Cup finals in Trinidad & Tobago in August.
Anguilla, originally the fourth team in Group Five, withdrew from the competition ahead of the tournament's start.
Ultimately, teams are seeking qualification to the Women's World Cup in Canada next year.
Jamaica's starting XI -- Nicole McLure (goalkeeper), Alicia Wilson, Sashana Campbell, Monique Pryce, Sharona Forrester, Omolyn Davis, Nicole Campbell, Jodi-Ann McGregor, Yolanda Hamilton, Shakira Duncan, Donna-Kay Henry.