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Luckless Girlz need luck

Monday, July 23, 2018

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BARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Jamaica's Reggae Girlz have not had any luck thus far in the women's football competition at the 23rd Central American and Caribbean Games.

Ironically, it will be fortune on which their very hopes of avoiding elimination lie when they tackle hosts Colombia in the feature match of a double-header at the Estadio Julio Torres Moderno, beginning at 8:30 pm today.

The Jamaicans owe their precarious position — without a point and bottom of this four-team group — to identical 1-2 losses against Costa Rica and Venezuela, who play the opening fixture.

Costa Rica lead the group with six points after two victories, while Venezuela and Colombia have three points apiece, each winning one match. The match Colombia lost 3-2 on Saturday night against Costa Rica opened the door for Jamaica, who are now banking on the Central Americans to help resurrect their chances of claiming one of two spots for teams advancing to the medal round.

That, though, is half the job, as Jamaica must do what they have not done all competition, win, and by a margin no less than two goals, if they are to stay alive.

“The good thing is that we have a chance. That's something we're going to try to capitalise on,” noted Hue Menzies, the team's head coach.

“Obviously, everything is not in our hands, we don't control everything; Costa Rica has to win also and then we have to win. But the good thing is that after their game we'll know exactly what we have to do,” he added.

In prior matches, Jamaica squandered a host of clear-cut scoring chances and two penalties, including one inside the last minute, to lose against Venezuela. They could count themselves luckless also in the second game against Costa Rica when, having already used up all three substitutes, goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers fell injured inside the final five minutes. That effectively reduced the team to 10 and the team's best player, striker Khadija Shaw, was thrust into goal.

Inside four minutes added for stoppages, Costa Rica were awarded a penalty for a 'dive' and they duly scored to win.

Shaw has scored the only goals for Jamaica and will carry the burden of attack and coach Menzies is gladly looking forward to the chance at hand.

“That's a positive and we're already talking about making some adjustments to take advantage of the situation. We want to add some strength; we want to add fresh legs. We've played 180 minutes in the heat and on the turf,” he noted.

“We were fair with every team. It's not like we've not had opportunities to win both games. It's a great group, we came here to play three good games at least, and we're getting them, which was the main purpose, because we brought some young players in,” Menzies shared.

The Girlz are also using this tournament to prep the senior national team for the crucial World Cup qualifiers that will take place in Jamaica in August. Five teams are participating and three will advance to the next round.

“Thanks to the JOA, the JFF for allowing us to get the opportunity, because it's the first time that we're playing against South American teams,” Menzies noted.

Right now, though, they have a different goal and find themselves banking on the very thing that have eluded them and contributed to their predicament.

“Winners always have luck. Right now we don't have any luck, but we have to learn from it.”

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