Sports

Girlz still up for the challenge, says Cheyna Matthews

SHERDON COWAN
AT THE 2019 FIFA
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINALS
In France

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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GRENOBLE, France — Forward Cheyna Matthews is hoping that her Reggae Girlz team will come out on top when she faces club teammate Chloe Logarzo in the final Fifa Women's World Cup Group C game between Jamaica and Australia today.

The teams meet at Stade des Alpes at 9:00 pm (2:00 pm Jamaica time) with top-ranked Australia the favourites to win over the 53rd-ranked Jamaicans, who are on the brink of an early exit in their debut campaign.

Despite the quality of the Australian side, Matthews, who plays at Washington Spirit in the NWSL with Logarzo, fancies her team's chances of upsetting their more illustrious opponents.

“Chloe Logarzo is my teammate and I was telling coach Hue [Menzies] that I really respect her as a player because she works hard and she is pretty unpredictable. So I am excited to see how our team match up with her specifically,” Matthews said during a pre-game press conference at the match venue yesterday.

Matthews is expected to return to the starting line-up after sitting out the team's 0-5 loss to Italy last Friday in the Champagne city of Reims as a precautionary measure for a slight groin injury.

Having also lost 0-3 to Brazil in their opening contest, the scorelines would suggest that the Reggae Girlz, the first Caribbean team to qualify for the global showpiece, are struggling to find their footing.

But they have enjoyed some good passages of play and created openings which they failed to capitalise on, which should be enough to put the Australians on guard, especially with the Jamaicans having nothing to lose.

“I would say that everyone is hungry. I think a lot of people probably would have assumed that we hang our heads. Obviously we are disappointed with the results that we have had and not being able to put any away yet, but the vibes in the locker room is good,” Matthews noted.

“I think we have had a pin-point focus now like coach Hue said. we have been really focusing on finishing crosses and stuff like that and we really want to put some away. So I think that is where our focus is shifted and I think even on the defensive side, they have worked really hard this week, and it's just a tactical approach to the game coming up,” the 25-year-old added.

A handsome win for the Reggae Girlz would place them in the running to advance as group runners-up or at least one of the four best third-placed finishers.

Currently at the foot of the standings without a point and a minus eight goal difference, the Girlz will have to defeat the third-placed Australia, on three points, by at least five clear goals, and hope that group leaders Italy, on six points, better second-placed Brazil, also on three points.

Matthews believes a positive result today would build on their historic legacy as they aim to continue inspiring a nation that once went a few years without a proper structure for a female programme.

“The response that we have had from young girls in Jamaica... I remember some of the games that we played couple months ago when we had the World Cup trophy going around and seeing some of those young girls come and ask for pictures and seeing how excited they were, for us [that] does mean a lot.

“It has definitely given us a sense of responsibility that we owe it to Jamaica, we owe it to the young girls, we owe it to women, and to anybody who is inspired to do something this big or even bigger,” she reasoned.

“It's a sense of responsibility but it's also a sense of pride knowing that we have [reached] this stage and I am sure for tomorrow (today), that is something that will be in the forefront of our minds along with obviously getting a result,” Matthews ended.


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