There was fight and spirit, but we struggled defensively — Hue

in South Africa

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

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DURBAN, South Africa — Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hue Menzies gave his players top marks for their gritty response playing hosts South Africa in an intimidating environment on Sunday.

In front of an approximately 30,000 drum-beating, vuvuzela-blowing, tribal-dancing and chanting locals at the majestic Moses Mabhida Stadium, the Jamaicans fought back gallantly from a first-half goal to leave here with pride intact.

In the friendly international, which was the official World Cup send-off for South Africa's Banyana Banayana, Linda Mothlhalo (25th minute) fired her country into the lead.

But against the run of play as the stadium rocked to the pulsating beats and sounds of Africa, Khadija “Bunny” Shaw was at her imperial best with a 57th-minute solo goal, to seal a 1-1 scoreline.

Both South Affrica and Jamaica are in their final preparation phases for their historic appearance at the Fifa Women's World Cup in France from June 7 to July 7, this year.

On Sunday night, Menzies gave a ringing endorsement of the spirit in which the Girlz played the game even as they were second-best to the hosts, but he dropped the hammer on aspects of the execution.

“There was a lot of fight and spirit and you see we have a special player in Bunny Shaw, and you always feel good when you have a player like that who can always turn the game for you… we were resilient and we dealt with it (the challenge) and we battled hard as a group and that's what you want.

“But I thought we struggled defensively and we turned the ball over and it caused a goal. I thought Konya Plummer has way more game than she gave us as I think this is one of her weaker games and she knows that… she is our skipper and she can't be giving us up and down games,” he said.

Plummer, the captain of the team, gave up possession of the ball in a dangerous position of the field that led to the South African goal.

Menzies was also hoping that the three-pronged midfield could have done better in influencing the pace of the tempo, but that was always going to be difficult with a South African middle staffed with runners and touch players.

“In midfield, I thought we could have held on to the ball a lot more, but the midfield was being bypassed a little bit with Bunny being up top.

“Attack-wise our forwards were decent, and of course Bunny was special and we had our opportunities. I thought Sashana (Campbell) did a great job in the second half when we pushed Chinyelu (Asher) wide and brought Sade (Olufolasade Adamolekun) in the game there was a bit more mobility.

“Also, I thought that Chantelle (Swaby) did a very good job just sitting in there and there was Marlo (Sweatman) in there who lasted the 90 minutes and that was good to see. I thought our goalkeepers were very good and I think we have two good goalkeepers, and Sydney (Schneider) came up with a couple of big saves,” Menzies added.

The US-based coach also paid tribute to the Desiree Ellis-coached South Africans.

“I thought South Africa were good, especially on the ball, and of course it was a farewell game for them, so they brought a lot more energy to it [game].

“I think their coach has done a good job keeping them organised… I think they have a lot of weapons and they are technical and I see them as a team that will create some problems at the World Cup,” Menzies noted.

Banyana Banyana will contest Group B of the World Cup against giants Germany, Spain and China.

Jamaica, meantime, will debut against Brazil, Italy and Australia in Group C.

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