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Reggae Girlz face Panama for historic berth to 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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DALLAS, USA — Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz will push to confirm qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup today when they lock horns with Panama in the Concacaf Women's Championships third-place play-off here at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

The contest, scheduled for 4:00 pm (same time as Jamaica), will be the curtain-raiser to the continental championship clash between defending champions United States and Canada.

Both United States and Canada have already qualified automatically for the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France.

Meanwhile, Jamaica, ranked 64th among Fifa women's teams, and Panama, ranked two places below at 66, are aiming to create history by qualifying for the World Cup for the first time, which should make for a very mouth-watering clash.

Should the Jamaicans achieve the feat, it would also make them the first Caribbean team to make an appearance on the biggest stage of women's football.

If they fail against Panama, the Reggae Girlz will have their final shot at qualification to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in a play-off against Argentina in home-and-away fixtures next month.

Having taken some positives from their second-half display in a 0-6 defeat to the United States, the Jamaicans, who clipped Costa Rica 1-0 in the group stages, are quietly confident of repeating against another Central American team.

But in order to do that they will have to capitalise on every opportunity presented as Head coach Hue Menzies is cognisant that the Panamanians, who stopped powerhouse Mexico in the group stages, are no flukes.

“We can't take the opponent lightly because we are both on a similar journey. they have a mission and the emotion is going to be very high; they will also be coming in with a bit of confidence on their side, so hopefully we can execute as we should and get the result that we need.

“We are very similar to Panama, so until the game ends then it is anybody's game and 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 will get the result,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer.

Menzies and his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, yesterday opted to move a scheduled indoor session at Highland Park High School outdoors in temperatures below 42 degrees Fahrenheit to get the Girlz acclimatised to the conditions.

The hour-and-half session was used to fine-tune some tactical drills as well as set plays, including penalty kicks, just in case the teams fail to separate themselves in full and extra time.

“The spirit was good and we had a lot of things accomplished in putting the final touches together for the game because based on what we know, Panama is a very technical team and they play with a pretty wide line,” Menzies explained.

“So we are going to try to push them inside so we can go on the outside. But they are a good team. they beat Mexico, so we have to have some respect for them and obviously they have a good goalkeeper.

“So we are definitely going to see how best we can exploit their weaknesses and get in behind them and see if we can get some goals,” he added.

With nippy striker Trudi Carter out due to a knee injury and uncertainties surrounding 16-year-old Jody Brown, who was suffering from food poisoning, Menzies was reluctant to reveal a starting line up.

However, based on yesterday's session, Sydney Schneider seems set to again start in goal, with captain Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Dominique Bond-Flasza and Lauren Silver at the back.

Marlo Sweatman, Chinyelu Asher and 17-year-old Giselle Washington seem set for midfield duties, while Deneisha Blackwood and Khadija Shaw could be joined up front by local-based Shanise Foster or Ashleigh Shim, should Brown fail to recover in time.

“We will announce the line up later tonight because we just finished training, so we are going to look if we can make any changes. Jody Brown is sick right now so we are going to see how she feels and make some adjustments,” the tactician ended.

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