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Donaldson forecasts Girlz improvement with practice games for next phase of Olympic Qualifiers

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, October 10, 2019

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Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz were never in danger of missing out on the top spot in Group B of their Concacaf Women's Olympic Caribbean Qualifying phase on home soil.

The Girlz' 12-1, 7-0, 11-0, and 7-0 victories over Cuba, Barbados, St Lucia, and United States Virgin Islands (USVI), respectively, at National Stadium, sent a strong statement that they were always in control.

Still, the Jamaicans, who topped the group with maximum 12 points and 37 goals, are eyeing significant improvements, as they brace for an even stiffer task in the 2020 Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championships.

While applauding his team for getting the job done, Assistant Coach Lorne Donaldson thought the team has some tightening up to do as they gave up ground in latter stages of each contest.

“Every once in a while we bounced up and down and we didn't maintain the level of standard that we wanted to. But in these kinds of games, it is very difficult to just maintain that high level the entire time because of the quality of the opponents.

“But not to make excuses, I think we have to get better at that actually; we have to be more disciplined in that regard, and tactically we have to figure out how to break down a team,” Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer following their 7-0 win over USVI on Tuesday.

“I don't think we did a good job breaking down this team in the second half tonight when they sat 11 behind the ball. We were forcing the ball up the middle, when we should have just taken the game wide and then just break them down from there. So, in terms of that, our game wasn't the best, but we accomplished what we set out to,” he added.

Donaldson, who led proceedings from the sidelines in Hue Menzies' absence, was particularly delighted that the team is finding new goalscoring sources, lessening its dependency on strikers.

Defenders Deneisha Blackwood and Dominique Bond-Flasza as well as Chinyelu Asher, new addition Reilly Patterson and local-based Tarania Clarke, gave support to the strike team of Khadija Shaw, Cheyna Matthews, Trudi Carter, and Tiffany Cameron.

“Yeah, it's really good to see other players coming to the fore to score goals because we used this tournament to look at a few players and we did some rotation and some of the players that we brought in did really well.

“I also think some of the girls playing in the pro leagues are a bit more matured now, you know Bunny [Shaw], Den Den [Blackwood] and the others have matured. And that augurs well for us as a team going forward,” Donaldson noted.

The tactician is already drawing up a plan to beef up preparations ahead of the final round of qualifiers, which he hopes will be set in motion during the next Fifa window.

“Going forward we are hoping to add new players and just get quality games, hopefully the next window, which is November 4, we can get that quality game.

“I think all the players should be available at that time, players who are here and players who were not here should be available, which is good, so if we can get even one quality game in that window, it would do us good,” Donaldson shared.

Finally, Donaldson also rates the Reggae Girlz' chances of securing one of the two spots to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, despite going up against powerhouses United States, Canada and Mexico.

St Kitts and Nevis, Haiti, Panama, and Costa Rica are the other teams that will be in the championships, expected to be contested late January to February.

“We have been there before playing a lot of these teams and have done significantly well against these teams. I think what we have to try to do now is, try to improve on what we're doing; I think we're getting better and I think we're getting an understanding of how we want to be better. And I think they know what it takes,” Donaldson reasoned.

He continued: “So, I mean, I like our chances going forward; I like some of the players that we will be bringing in and looking at, but we have to get the games and preparations in order to achieve that.

“If we don't get the games or anything because of one thing or the other, we definitely need to have camps before we can accomplish anything.”

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