Reggae Girlz begin quest to punch Olympics ticket against Mexico today

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Reggae Girlz begin quest to punch Olympics ticket against Mexico today

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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Jamaica's Reggae Girlz will have just one objective in mind when they kick off the Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifiers — securing a berth to the Tokyo Olympic Games later this year.

But in order to do that, they have to get by at least three of the confederation's powerhouses, as only the two finalists from the tournament will parade their skills at the global multi-sport event.

The Jamaicans' opening contest against Mexico today at HEB Park in Edinburgh, Texas, will be the first stern test of their ability in their quest for another historic achievement.

Game time is 8:00 pm (Jamaica time).

Having recently wrapped up a camp in Houston where the team gathered some momentum ahead of today's assignment, Head Coach Hubert Busby is quietly confident about their chances of snapping up all three points.

“As a coach you never truly feel that [you] have done enough training, but I feel that we have been able to accomplish what we wanted to accomplish thus far with the camp, so we should be good. We spent the last week putting in the work and focusing on our principles and things that are very unique to the way we want to play and based on the characteristics of our players that we have.

“So the group has really responded; a lot of these girls have experience in high-pressure situation so now it's just about fine-tuning and executing what we need to do in the match,” Busby told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Busby's confidence could very well be justified as the last time these two teams met at the Pan Am Games in Peru, Mexico came away 2-0 winners over a Reggae Girlz team that was missing most of its top players.

But with 13 players from the Fifa Women's World Cup squad, including lethal striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw now in the fold, the Girlz are expected to prove more formidable this time around.

The tactician pointed out that he, along with assistants Andrew Price and David Gough, did all the necessary work to ensure the Reggae Girlz are in the right frame of mind to go out there and execute accordingly.

A scrimmage game against Houston Dynamo Under-15 team, which wrapped up camp on Sunday, gave a good assessment of the players' progress.

“Our focus has been looking to improve on both areas of play; we want to be better in possession and more threatening going forward and obviously make sure that we are compact and organised when we don't have the ball. We want to be the best team that we can be within those transition phases.

“So that has been a lot of what we are focused on in the last week and this is a pretty tight group of players with good leadership, the cohesiveness has been excellent and obviously it is one of the best groups we have, so we expect a good showing,” Busby reasoned.

“Obviously we would have really loved to play Costa Rica but due to the weather it wasn't possible, but the boys' scrimmage [game] gave us the opportunity to look at a few players and what was really pleasing was the younger players and how much they stepped up and came on and changed the game. So that was a very positive thing to see,” he added.

While it is still uncertain what plans Busby has up his sleeve, chances are he will stick with the attacking 4-3-3 formation for today's game, which is said to suit the athletic nature of most of the players within the ranks.

If so, Sydney Schneider could start in goal with Konya Plummer and Allyson Swaby in the heart of defence, to be flanked by Deneisha Blackwood on the left and Sashana Campbell at right.

In midfield, Chantelle Swaby, Havana Solaun and Kayla McCoy could be assigned duties, while Cheyna Matthews, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw and Trudi Carter could make up the three-prong attack.

“Obviously Mexico is a good team and one of the powerhouses, so we expect them to come at us and they will also be coming in with some degree of confidence on their side.

“So, we just have to go out there and execute; and we feel confident that if we go out there and do what we need to do, then we can get a result,” Busby noted.

Following their Group B opener against Mexico, the Reggae Girlz will face Canada on Saturday and St Kitts and Nevis next Tuesday, after which the top two teams in the group advance to the semi-finals against the top-two nations in Group A.

That group comprises world champions United States, Haiti, Costa Rica and Panama.

The two winners of those semi-finals on February 7 will qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, as well as advance to the February 9 Concacaf final. Both the semi-finals and final will be played in Carson, California.

Squad: Sydney Schneider, Chris-Ann Chambers, Alyssa Whitehead, Sashana Campbell, Trudi Carter, Madiya Harriott, Tiernny Wiltshire, Chantelle Swaby, Gabrielle Farrell, Kayla McCoy, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Konya Plummer, Khadija Shaw, Havana Solaun, Allyson Swaby, Dominique Bond-Flasza, Deneisha Blackwood, Cheyna Matthews, Chinyelu Asher, Tiffany Cameron


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