Menzies expects vigorous competition as Girlz seek spots in France squad

Observer staff reporter

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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Having started a clean slate with an innovative pool of players, Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hue Menzies says the focus is on hard work as he is expecting a competitive battle for positions in the final 23-member squad in their build up to the Fifa Women's World Cup in France.

Menzies pointed out that hard work will be a vital component for their five-month preparation phase to ensure that the Reggae Girlz debut performance at the global showpiece event this summer will bring even more pride to the country.

“I got a chance to talk to two of the young players last night and they said 'coach Hue this is just unbelievable'... it seems that all minds think alike and all philosophies are similar and they feel like everything is just fitting like a glove for them. They know it's a competitive environment and we as coaches have to make tough decisions, but that's the nature of football,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer after a one-hour-long session at the National Stadium yesterday.

With a pool of 32 players built around players who led Jamaica to the historic feat of becoming the first Caribbean team to qualify for the Women's World Cup, Menzies noted that this first camp, scheduled to end on Monday, is about getting new players accustomed to the core of the team.

A total of 12 new players — some of whom featured for the country at the youth level — were drafted for the preparation phase with approximately five more expected to join the party at the second camp next month.

Jody Brown, who was initially omitted from the squad due to school obligations, showed up briefly for yesterday's session as she is only in the island for the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards gala, where she is expected to be recognised.

The 16-year-old is expected to be back with the team in full effect at the next camp.

“Obviously with leading players still around, the others just have to come in and fall in place, but the mood has been great, the players are working hard and they are taking care of each other, which is important.

“They know what is at stake, so they have to put in what is required at training both here and while they are away from camp so that when they come into the team, they can prove that they belong. If you ask anyone of them, they know that we have to bring the best 23 and they know they have to work for that,” Menzies noted.

The tactician believes the current pool of players possesses the qualities to work with tactically, but the aim is to add and subtract from the collection before fine-tuning ahead of the Fifa Women's World Cup.

As such, Menzies along with assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, welcome the possibility of a tough task to narrow the pool as the most significant factor is for players to reach their true potential.

Hubert Busby, Will Hitzelberger and Jason Henry are the other members of the coaching staff.

“The biggest thing with this group is that they understand what is at stake and they understand the commitment needed, so we are happy with what we have here, and hopefully, things will work out.

“So we welcome players stepping up to the plate because then we have to sit down with the staff and start narrowing things and that is going to take place right away and by the end of March, we should have the 23 that we are going to take to France,” Menzies noted.

After this camp, the Reggae Girlz will be back in Jamaica for two friendlies against Chile on February 28 and March 3 at the National Stadium as well as Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall, respectively, during the team's February camp.

They are also scheduled to have a fixture during a camp in Fort Lauderdale in April, after which the team will fly to England for a Scotland fixture before skipping over to France for a clash with Spain just before the World Cup kicks off.

“Hopefully we can pick up a few more games in the Fifa window... we are hoping to get quality games against one of the professional teams in Texas, and then the last set of games will be a send-off game here to show the country that we are going to represent them in a certain way which will make them proud of us,” Menzies shared.

The number 53-ranked Jamaicans are drawn in Group C alongside top-ranked Australia at number six in the world, number 10-ranked Brazil and Italy, ranked at number 16, for June 7 to July 7 World Cup.

Jamaica's World Cup campaign will begin on June 9 when they face Brazil at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, France. They will then travel to Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims on June 14 for battle against Italy, before concluding the group phase on June 18 against top-ranked Australia in Grenoble.

Following the group stages, the top two teams will automatically progress to the Round of 16 where they will be joined by the four best third-placed teams. From there, teams will then progress to the quarter-final to battle for semi-final berths.

The final of the Women's World Cup is scheduled for July 7 at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Meanwhile, with Caribbean Airlines, Supreme Ventures Limited (SVL) and more recently Wisynco, through its Wata brand, previously announcing their support as sponsors of the JFF and the Reggae Girlz, Coco Cola yesterday joined the party by handing over a symbolic cheque of $2,500,000.

The team had previously been ably fuelled by support from Cedella Marley and the Bob Marley Foundation, along with Alacran Foundation.

Squad: Allyson Swaby (As Roma), Chanel Hudson-Marks (University of Memphis), Chantelle Swaby (Rutgers University), Cheyna Lee Matthews (Washington Spirit), Chinyelu Asher (Stabæk FC), Chris-Ann Chambers (UWI FC), Christina Chang (FC Surge), Chyanne Dennis (University of South Florida), Deneisha Blackwood (West Florida University), Dominique Bond-Flasza (PSV Eindhoven), Giselle Washington (Concord Fire) Havana Solaun (Klepp) Jadyn Matthews (Cornell University), Kayla Jay McCoy (Houston Dash), Khadija Shaw (University of Tennessee), Konya Plummer (University of Central Florida), Lauren Silver, Marlo Sweatman, Nicole McClure, Olufolasade Adamolekun (United Soccer Alliance), Sashana Campbell (Maccabi Krishronot Hadera), Shanise Foster (Arnett Gardens FC), Shayla Smart (Wake Forest University), Siobhan Wilson (Sassuolo Femminile), Sydney Schneider (University of North Carolina), Tarania Clarke (Waterhouse FC ), Tiffany Cameron, Toriana Patterson (A.S.D Pink Sport Time), Victoria Huxtable (University of Richmond), Vyan Sampson (West Ham Ladies), Yazmeen Jamieson( Unionville Milliken), Madiya Harriott (Vanderbuilt)

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