Coach Gilbert pleased with progress of U-20 Girlz


Coach Gilbert pleased with progress of U-20 Girlz

Observer staff reporter

Friday, February 28, 2020

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Xavier Gilbert and his young Reggae Girlz team are currently beaming with pride and excitement, having cleared their first major hurdle in the Concacaf Women's Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic.

But while they celebrate their historic win over Canada on Wednesday and, by extension, progressing to the knockout round, Gilbert was quick to point out that there is still more work to be done to secure a historic qualification to the World Cup.

As a result the tactician, his assistant Tashana Vincent, and advisor Hubert Busby are well aware that their main objective now is to keep the players grounded ahead of what seems an easier task against Bermuda in the Round of 16 tomorrow.

The 3-1 scoreline against Canada saw Jamaica ending group play unbeaten on seven points with 11 goals to their name, following a come-from-behind 4-4 stalemate with Guatemala and a comfortable 4-1 win over El Salvador.

“Obviously the players are over the moon about not only moving on to the next round but doing so with a victory over Canada. That will definitely boost their confidence moving forward, which is good, but we have to ensure that they don't become overconfident or complacent.

“So we have to do some recovery work as well as some tactical work in parts and plan our strategy for Bermuda in the knockout, and just continue to take it one game at a time. We can't take them for granted because they have some good players and speed up top as well, so we are mindful of that and we just have to organise ourselves properly,” Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer prior to yesterday's two-tier session in which they did recovery with the starters and tactical work with the others.

That said, Gilbert expressed pleasure with how his team played against a top-quality opponent like Canada, as they were more efficient in their decision-making and overall execution in that contest.

Captain Jody Brown (20th), Lacey-Ann Murray (80th) and Marlee Fray (89th) got the goals for Jamaica, while a defensive error allowed Tanya Boychuk to pull one back for Canada in the 90th+1 minute.

“I am pleased with how they have responded since the first game against Guatemala and it is something that I have predicted from the start, that we will get better as the tournament progresses — and I think we are now seeing that. So, we have to give credit to the young ladies for the way they played,” Gilbert noted.

“We have always talked about leaving it all on the field and I think the Girlz did that yesterday [Wednesday]; we had a game plan and they executed it well. We played to our strength in terms of how we transitioned from defence to attack and we capitalised on our chances. We should have also ended with a clean sheet but such is the nature of the game,” he added.

Now that the tone has been set, Gilbert is optimistic that the tactical awareness and consistent level of improvement will remain a key feature in their performances, as they look to the business end of the tournament.

Should the Jamaicans win tomorrow's contest against Bermuda, they will go on to face host Dominican Republic or El Salvador in the quarter-finals, where another victory could possibly see them come face to face with 2018 beaten finalists United States or Canada in the semi-finals.

Only the March 8 finalists will qualify for the World Cup, to be hosted by Costa Rica and Panama.

“Consistency is what we want because in order for us to be a formidable outfit we have to be consistent in our performances, so for now it's a case of keep doing what we are doing from an attacking standpoint.

“Our defensive unit still needs a lot of work but, like I said before, I think we will get better and stronger for our experiences as the tournament progresses. So, it is just to have them recover and get them as fresh as possible for the next game as we aim to continue giving a good account of ourselves,” Gilbert ended.

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