Reggae Girlz look to fill boots against Cuba

SHERDON COWAN
AT THE CONCACAF
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
In USA

Thursday, October 11, 2018

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MCALLEN, USA — A day off for the Reggae Girlz to clear their heads and regain focus was just what the doctor ordered.

But it is now time to get back to business, as Caribbean neighbours Cuba stand in their way of placing one foot into the semi-final at the 10th edition of the Concacaf Women's Championships here.

The two will meet in their final Group B fixture at the HEB Park in Edinburg, Texas today at 6:30 pm (same time as Jamaica), where a wide margin of victory for the Reggae Girlz would see them progressing, while the Cubans will be playing to salvage pride.

Should the Reggae Girlz, ranked 64th internationally, achieve their aspirations of scoring more than eight goals against the 85th-ranked Cubans, then Costa Rica would be forced to beat Canada in their 9:00 pm feature and bring goal difference into play to determine the top two teams from the groups.

Jamaica are currently in third on three points with a minus one goal difference, behind Costa Rica, who also have three points and a plus seven goal difference, while Canada head the standings on six points.

Following two tough assignments against Canada and Costa Rica, Head Coach Hue Menzies and his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price felt it was only right to allow the players some leisure time on Tuesday.

Those activities included a movie and dinner which the players thoroughly enjoyed after stretching and a light session earlier in the morning.

“Mentally and physically the girls were really pushed in those two games and so we decided to give them the day to get rid of that stress and refocus for the next game.

“So I think they are now somewhat rejuvenated mentally and physically; I was talking to fitness coach Will [Hitzelberger] and he thinks they feel much better and a lot of them are healing up from soreness,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer.

“With that said I must give credit to him [Will] because he has done a good job in getting the players to recover and I feel like we just need to start getting them back on track with some tactical work to get them prepared,” he added.

With the win against Costa Rica still fresh on their mind, Menzies pointed out that they will be riding that momentum into today's contest, especially given the fact that they ousted the Cubans 6-1 in the Caribbean Championships in Kingston.

“Obviously the Costa Rica game was a massive one for us but we can't just fall off shape because we have a job to do and so we have to go out and perform.

“They (Cuba) are Caribbean opponents, so we expect them to come out and put out the effort because we don't think they want to go back home without something. So I am sure they are going to come out and give an extra effort, but we will come out and execute,” Menzies noted.

The tactician revealed that there will be a number of changes made to the starting line up, but was reluctant to share his final 11, opting to wait until after a scheduled 5:00 pm session yesterday.

“Obviously, we are in rotation mode, so we will make some changes throughout the line up, but we are still aware that we have to go out there and not only just win but score goals and then get back into our rhythm.

“We have the depth in 19 players and we are going to use all 19 players, but besides that the formation doesn't change and the attitude doesn't change. We feel comfortable with the persons that we put in there to get the result and score enough goals,” Menzies stated.

Based on that feedback, the starting team could see Nicole McClure replacing Sydney Schneider in goal shadowed by captain Konya Plummer, Dominique Bond-Flasza, Lauren Silver, while Toriana Patterson could now replace Allyson Swaby in that back four.

Jadyn Matthews could come in for Christina Chang to partner Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman in midfield with the three-pronged attack again involving Deneisha Blackwood, Trudi Carter and Khadija Shaw.

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

Mexico and Panama, who were 4-1 and 3-0 winners over Trinidad and Tobago, 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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