Menzies urges calm in wake of Girlz win over Costa Rica


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

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MCALLEN, USA — While there is a lot for Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz team to celebrate, Head Coach Hue Menzies is mindful that the job is not yet done.

Despite their crucial 1-0 Concacaf Women's Championship Group B victory over Costa Rica on Monday, the tactician yesterday stressed the importance of maintaining a cool head with one more game to go in the group stage.

In Monday's contest at the H.E.B Park in Edinburg, Texas, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw found the decisive goal which handed the Jamaicans three points as they kept their hopes of progressing to the semi-final round alive.

“The performance and intensity that the Girlz played at was good, they maintained focus despite being a little tired at the end because Costa Rica was forced to start pressing after we scored and we had to chase more. But the Girlz just stuck with the game plan and Syd (Sydney Schneider) came up with some big saves for us and we got the three points which was important for us,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer.

“This victory is huge for our programme and huge for Jamaica because all the emotion and hard work that we have been through is paying off, which means we are headed in the right direction. But again, we have done our celebrations and it is now time to move to the next 90 minutes and keep the journey going,” he added.

Canada currently head the standings on maximum six points after a 12-0 win over Cuba, also on Monday, while Costa Rica are in second by virtue of a superior goal difference to the Jamaicans.

The Girlz, who hold onto their Fifa ranking of 64, will tackle the Cubans (ranked 85th) in the final contest tomorrow at 6:30 pm, where victory could assure them a spot in the semi-final and at least a play-off spot for qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup.

Reflecting further on Monday's performance, Menzies lauded the spirit and determination of the Girlz in rebounding from a 0-2 defeat to Canada last Friday, to pull of the stunning upset.

It was also sweet revenge for the Jamaicans, who went down 1-2 to the Costa Ricans at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in July.

“Their fighting spirit started back in Haiti when we were two goals down in a pack stadium; the will these players have is just unbelievable, and you just hope that they understand that there is more in the tank because they need it.

“But at the end of the day, they have been grinding and I think we just have to refocus ourselves and look forward because we can't think that Cuba will be easy,” Menzies noted.

With that said, he pointed out that recovery will be another key component in the team's press toward a historic World Cup qualification.

“We still don't have any injury, which is amazing from when we started back in May... everybody is healthy, the levels came in this morning and people are just sore which is expected. So now Will [Hitzelberger] just has to take over for the next 48 hours.

“Because obviously after those two physical games that we played, we have to refocus and get ready for Cuba, we might have to do our rotation because we have depth and we are not going to take them lightly because anything can happen. So the Girlz have to stay focus and grounded ahead of that game,” he declared.

Meanwhile, defending champions USA are expected to wrap up Group A honours in Cary, North Carolina, today against Trinidad and Tobago, following 6-0 and 5-0 scorelines over Mexico and Panama, respectively.

Mexico and Panama, who were 4-1 and 3-0 winners over the twin-island republic, were set to lock horns for the runner-up spot.

Following the group stage, all matches will be played at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

The top three teams in the tournament will automatically qualify for the Fifa Women's World Cup France 2019, with the fourth-placed team having an opportunity to secure qualification through a playoff with Argentina of CONMEBOL.

The winners of the two semi-final encounters on October 14 will automatically qualify for the World Cup, as well as the winners of the third place game. Both the third place play-off and final are scheduled to take place on October 17.

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