Young Girlz bow out of CONCACAF Championship
...Coach thinks they did country proud despite defeat to Haiti
HOWARD WALKER Reporting from the UNDER-15 CHAMPIONSHIP in West Bay, Grand Cayman
WEST BAY, Grand Cayman — Despite falling below his expectations, Jamaica's head coach Xavier Gilbert said the young Under-15 Reggae Girlz did their country proud after exiting at the quarter-final stage of the CONCACAF Under-15 Girls Championship.
Jamaica were 30 minutes away from a semi-final spot after 12-year-old prodigy Jody Brown fired them into a 29th minute lead and the team entered the half-time interval in front after 35 minutes.
But upon the resumption, Haiti struck twice in 12 minutes with Lovelie Pierre and Nerillia Mondesir in the 40th and 52nd minutes, respectively, for a 2-1 victory.
It was a disappointing end to the tournament for the young Girlz, especially losing to a team that they outplayed for greater parts of the game.
"We weren't as effective and efficient as we should. I think we weren't as dominant in midfield as we were in previous games. We had a slow start from our midfielders and it really affected us," said Gilbert.
"The aggression from the Haitians also I think affected them. We got the go-ahead goal and just didn't manage the lead. But they are youngsters, they are learning and it's part of their development," he noted.
The Jamaicans, despite the loss, got a rousing reception from the large Jamaican contingent at the game and as usual, some voiced their opinions on who should have started, who should have done what and where.
"I am still happy and proud of them, the way they acquitted themselves throughout the tournament. They have made Jamaica proud and knowing where they are coming from to where they are now, they have made tremendous improvement and they can only can get better from here," said Gilbert, who has been a national coach for
"We got a few chances. We missed a PK (penalty kick) in the second half and that probably would have changed the game. But it just wasn't our night," he added.
Gilbert, who said a semi-final spot would have been satisfactory to him, has high praises for Jeff Webb and his CONCACAF team for organising this tournament to develop the women's game.
"It's the first they are playing at this level and as the tournament progressed, I saw some of them really coming into their own and doing what we expected them to do. With this experience and this exposure they only can get better," he pointed out.
"It (Under-15 tournament) is very good in terms of having this level to see if we match up with the North Americans and Mexico, so it is very good," he added.
"I just hope that the local organisations, especially the parishes and the JFF, keep these competitions and the teams going because that's the only way they can get better. There are not enough competitions organised for the girls and they don't have the privilege of going out like the boys in a league or corner league," Gilbert lamented.
"So organised competition is the best way for them. But this is a testament of the Under-15 competition that the JFF organised and we just hope that they continue every year and in the future the pool of players for all age groups and all teams will benefit from this," he said.