Reggae Girlz down Cuba to seal Caribbean title

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

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It was quick; it was lethal and almost effortless.

In fact, lambs to the slaughter would be a fitting metaphor to describe the senior Reggae Girlz's 6-1 thumping of Cuba in their curtain call of the final-round Concacaf Caribbean Women's Qualifier inside the National Stadium on Sunday.

Though it was not an entirely clean, clinical and professional execution by the Reggae Girlz, this was a one-sided affair, as they were always in complete control courtesy of braces from the prolific Khadija Shaw (20th and 38th) and Chinyelu Asher (19th and 70th). Lauren Silver (32nd) and 16-year-old Jody Brown (34th) got the others.

However, a lapse in concentration allowed Maria Perez Torres (90+3) to steal a consolation for Cuba.

That mishap did not slip Head Coach Hue Menzies when he gave thoughts on the game.

“That one (goal) is a great learning experience because we kind of shut down and I am getting ready to get on the captain [Konya Plummer] for that. We want to use that as a tilt going into the next round because when we go up against good teams, which we will eventually, we have to fix these little issues to ensure they don't recur,” Menzies told journalists in a post-game interview.

“But we won so we are very pleased. We came here to put on a show for Jamaica and we wanted Jamaica to see the product that we have been working on for the last four years and they are great young ladies. I say young ladies because they are good solid kids and as coaches we just facilitate, so all credit goes to the players,” he added.

With the win, the Jamaicans consolidated their place atop the five-team play-off on maximum 12 points, netting 23 goals, while conceding a mere two.

The unbeaten Reggae Girlz were joined by runners-up Trinidad and Tobago and third-placed Cuba in the Concacaf Women's Championship in the United States from October 4-17.

Trinidad and Tobago ended on nine points following a 3-0 win over Bermuda in Sunday's curtain-raiser, while Cuba ended on six points.

The Jamaicans were all fired up like a team possessed at the start, and despite being kept at bay by Cuba in the early exchanges, they eventually broke free in the 19th minute.

The fairly large crowd in the grand stand erupted with joyous cheers when Jamaica's first goal came about through Asher, who fired home from the top of the 18-yard box after some great work down the left channel by the nippy Trudi Carter.

And the crowd may have been thinking their entrance fee was well spent as Shaw doubled the lead a minute later. The towering striker fended off a challenge from her marker and calmly slotted past custodian Lucylena Martinez from close range after being sent on her way by a textbook long pass from the back by captain Konya Plummer.

It was not her best game, but the diminutive Brown was buzzing all over the place and tormented the opposing left full back, winning a free kick approximately 20 yards out in the 32nd.

That set play was right up the street of Jamaica's left full back Silver, who executed a well-taken left-footed kick that curled into the back of the net, leaving Martinez no chance in goal.

Ironically, Silver's caution for taking the set play ahead of the whistle may have been a blessing in disguise as her second attempt resulted in her first goal of the campaign.

Another killer blow came two minutes later, when the fleet-footed Brown brushed herself off to convert a penalty kick from the 12-yard spot after earlier being brought down inside the area.

Shaw almost extended the lead in the 35th when she went on another break but her left-footed effort which had Martinez beaten, came back off the upright. And Brown was also holding her head in despair a minute later when her left-footed effort just went wide.

However, the Jamaicans would inevitably grab one more before the break when Asher produced some good work down the left channel before whipping in a weighted cross for Shaw to expertly head home from close range, making it 5-0 at the half.

Cuba came out spirited on the resumption and threatened on two occasions but failed to find the consolation at that point.

The Jamaicans then continued their dominance from there and had number six in the bag when centre back Plummer went on one of her trademark solo runs before providing a pinpoint cross for Asher to fire home in the 70th.

Two more bites at the cherry came for the Jamaicans in the 81st minute when substitute Ashleigh Shim skipping in and out of tackles, saw her effort came back off the upright. Another substitute Chyanne Dennis's stinging effort from a distance was parried by Martinez on the stroke of full time.

After taking their foot off the accelerator, Plummer's defensive error opened the door for Cuba to avoid the six-love and Torres Perez duly obliged by working her way inside the area before driving hard and low past Sydney Schneider in goal for Jamaica in time added.

Teams: Jamaica— Sydney Schneider, Konya Plummer, Lauren Silver, Dominique Bond-Flasza, Toriana Patterson, Marlo Sweatman (Jadyn Matthews 46th), Chinyelu Asher, Giselle Washington, Jody Brown, Trudi Carter (Ashleigh Shim 66th), Khadija Shaw (Chyanne Dennis 74th)

Subs not used: Yazmeen Jamieson, Chantelle Swaby, Christina Chang, Sashana Campbell, Deneisha Blackwood, Allyson Swaby

Booked: Silver (31st), Bond-Flasza (54th)

Cuba— Lucylena Martinez Rodriguez, Arrebato Gainza, Jessica Pupo, Yarisleidy Mena Novo, Yaremis Fuentes Ramirez (Laura Moreno Marquez 71st), Maria Perez Torres, Rachel Pelaez Ellis, Lilian Perez Sandoval, Zailin Rodriguez (Maristania Perez 46th), Yeranis Lee Gonzalez, Yennifer Ramos Lopez

Subs not used: Katherine Montesino Hidalgo, Lizandra Gonzalez Moya, Sucel Maceo Leon, Dianelis Lastre

Booked: Z Rodriguez (44th), M Perez (65th), Gainza (77th)

Referee: Lucila Venegas Montes (MEX)

Assistant referees: Heidy Nimatuj (GUA); Mayling Chavarria Rugama (NCA)

Fourth official: Sandra Benitez Arteaga (SLV)

Match Commissary: Andrea Thompson (CAY)

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