Cuba test

Reggae Girlz tackle Spanish-speaking Caribbean neighbours in Challenge Series

Observer staff reporter

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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Jamaica's senior women's team will be aiming to end the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Women's Challenge Series on a high when they square off against Cuba in the final Group B contest at the Drewsland Mini Stadium today at 5:00 pm.

The Reggae Girlz are currently in second place on three points with an inferior goal difference to the Cubans following their 3-2 win over Barbados on Friday.

Cuba had previously hammered the Bajans 7-0 in the Group's opening fixture at the UWI/JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Wednesday.

The Turks and Caicos Islands, who were due to compete in the group, withdrew, leaving the three teams to vie for top honours.

The CFU Challenge Series provides an avenue for the teams to fine tune their preparations ahead of the confederation's World Cup-qualifying play-offs set to start next month.

The pool of locally-based players was yesterday taken through a fairly light morning session by Assistant Coach Andrew Price, followed by an afternoon session at the match venue focusing on tactical drills, as they sought to sharpen up for today's group decider.

“We just focused on recuperating for the most parts and then we did some tactical drills to work on some ways in which we want to counter the Cubans attack.

“We had a lot of advantage in the Barbados game and other than those two defensive errors, I thought we controlled the game well, so that was a good indicator. We just need to be a lot more clinical in goal, but it was the first game out for them and we are just preparing ourselves for Cuba,” Price told the Jamaica Observer.

The Boys' Town coach, who is one of the assistants to Head Coach Hue Menzies, hinted that there might be a few changes to the starting line-up for what is expected to be a very tough assignment.

He also stressed the significance of the tournament as a means of providing his players with valuable exposure as they seek to secure the best of the local players to join forces with their overseas-based counterparts for the qualifiers in Haiti next month.

“We know that the Cuba team is a better drilled team; they have been training for a much longer period than us so we know that they are well organised and we are going to have to prepare for them.

“Again, I think this exposure is very good for these young ladies as they have not played any international football in a long time. So getting this kind of international exposure will do them well, and we just want to go out there and be positive and get some experience and victories along the way, because what we are doing is looking at the players that we believe will be best suited for the tournament,” Price noted.

National Under-20 representatives Kevena Reid, Sherice Clarke and Gabrielle Gayle, who all had a relatively good outing on Wednesday, are all expected to retain their spots in the starting line-up along with Shantel Bailey and Roshana Palache.

Captain Chris-Ann Chambers should again start in goal, with Chevin Blair, Lotoya Duhaney and Jodi-Ann Thomas also expected to retain their spots. The changes could see another Under-20 player, Nevillegail Able, coming in for Davia Smith and Shanice Allison replacing Kishawna Robinson in the midfield position.

Cuba's Head Coach Reniel Bonora Penalver is also looking forward to a tough challenge.

“We know that the Jamaicans were watching the match (against Barbados) and they are going to be a challenge for us because we know the quality of the Jamaican team.

“So we are preparing for a tough game against the Jamaicans, because they will bring a higher level of football as opposed to the Barbadians, and so it is important that we make some improvements for the game against Jamaica,” he told the Observer via physiotherapist Ecelsio Griego Cairo who acted as interpreter.

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