Bring it on!

Girlz relish keen competition for spots in World Cup squad

Observer staff reporter

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

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While the 32-member pool that kicked off the Reggae Girlz' preparation camps may have been built around players who led Jamaica to the historic qualification for the Fifa Women's World Cup, many of those players will not get the opportunity to bask in the tournament's glory.

And the players are very much aware of that.

Head coach Hue Menzies and his team have made it very clear that hard work will be a key requirement for players to break into the final 23-member squad for this summer's global showpiece, and members of the senior Reggae Girlz team have responded with aplomb.

The grit, determination and belief of many came to the fore during a squad game at Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall on Sunday, as the dream of playing on the world stage is heavily dependent on their performances.

So bitter is the battle for positions that even Konya Plummer, who captained the team throughout the qualification phase, believes her position in the team is not set in stone and welcomes the competitiveness among her teammates.

Plummer argued that their itinerary for the coming months is not merely about impressing Menzies and his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, but also to ensure that the Reggae Girlz' debut performance at the global showpiece event this summer will bring even more pride to the country.

“The camp was great, but it was a little different from what we are accustomed to because the coaches are looking at different players and different options in both squad matches we played.

“Personally, I think we had some quality players in camp and that is good, because the battle for positions is what we all need. We are not just playing for ourselves, but our country and it is only fair if the best squad is selected; and I know this training camp has made it harder for the coaches, which again is good,” Plummer told the Jamaica Observer shortly after wrapping up the St Ann-based camp.

“It is good for us as players when there are no guaranteed spots on the team and we have to be mindful that coaches are never satisfied, and so we the players should never be satisfied as well.

“When we do well, it is for us to tell ourselves that there is still room for improvement, and if we don't do well, then we should use that failure as motivation to work even harder the next time,” the St Mary native added.

Right fullback Dominique Bond-Flasza, who scored Jamaica's winning penalty in the Concacaf Women's Championship third-place play-off against Panama to seal qualification, shared similar sentiments.

“It was nice to start preparing for the World Cup. the coaches have brought in new players, who are of high quality and that has increased the overall competition — which is a plus for the programme.

“Over the past few days in camp we were trying to continue building relationships on and off the field because our chemistry is important as the coaches are trying to find the right personnel who will ensure the team performs will in France this June.

“At the end of the day, each player has to compete to earn a spot on the roster, and I'm hopeful that I will be one of those players,” said Bond-Flasza, who sat out Sunday's game due to a slight calf injury.

For winger/defender Sashana Campbell, the aim is always to work harder and smarter to ensure a place in the final squad.

“I think the battle for a spot is a good thing because as players, we cannot be too complacent going into the World Cup. We now have to work twice as hard to make the 23 and that will help us in the end, because whenever we get the opportunity we are sure to give our very best.

“The coaches want to get the best players on the field and one can never be over confident when it comes to selection. I just have to stay focused and try to improve my game mentally and physically every day and see what happens from there,” the Israel-based player noted.

Meanwhile goalkeeper Nicole McClure who pulled off two stunning saves in the crucial qualifying contest, is also aware that she will have to be at her best between the sticks to outlast the competition.

“I love the intensity in training. The level of competition has increased tremendously and we need that because the teams we will face in June are very strong, so we need to be well prepared and mirror the competition at hand.

“So I'm ready to compete for the number one spot, the coaches have made it clear that no position is safe, so everyone has to work hard and prove to the staff why they deserve playing time. I'm excited to compete for mine,” she declared.

The number 53-ranked Jamaicans are drawn in Group C alongside top-ranked Australia at number six in the world, number 10-ranked Brazil, and Italy, ranked at number 16, for the June 7 -July 7 World Cup.

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