Sport

U-17 Reggae Girlz tackle Coast Rica

Coach Gilbert believes home side will give Central Americans good test in friendly encounter

BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter

Friday, September 29, 2017



Head coach of Jamaica's Under-17 women's team Xavier Gilbert said the country's two international friendly games against Costa Rica Under-17 team are a very crucial part of preparation heading into the final round of the CONCACAF Caribbean Football Union qualifiers to be held in Haiti from October 16 - 22.

The Jamaicans, along with Trinidad and Tobago, Bermuda, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and Cuba will battle for the Caribbean Championship from which top three teams will qualify for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship.

The Costa Ricans are also in preparation as they will take on hosts Panama, El Salvador and Honduras in the Central American Zone Qualifiers next month. Only the winner will qualify for the CONCACAF Championship.

The championship is to be held in Nicaragua early next year.

The first of the two friendlies will kick off today at The University of the West Indies (UWI)/Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, starting at 3:00 pm.

The second encounter will be played at Winchester Park, St George's College, on Sunday, also at 3:00 pm. Patrons will have free entry to both games.

Gilbert said the home side will give Coasta Rica a good test.

“We have never played them [Costa Rica] in a competition or in a friendly at this level. It is the first of this kind. The first of this magnitude at this level. We have played Trinidad and Tobago in friendlies, but not a team like Costa Rica or any other team that has made it to the World Cup.

“I think it is going to be an entertaining [encounter]. We are going to give it our best and try to win the game, but in the same breath to ensure that we see and fix the things heading into the tournament in Haiti.

“We have a squad of 24 players for the two friendly games as there are some players that we are going to be looking at. A few overseas players in Maliah Atkins, Nyla Allen and Jahneal Morgan, who didn't make the trip to st Vincent and the Grenadines last month, and the others are local like Stayann Clair, Alicia Smith, Chrissann Roberts, and Daihla Whyte. They are in and around the programme from the youth 15, and so they are the ones we are going to look at and gives some exposure,” Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer.

The young Reggae Girlz's 10-0 and 7-0 beating of St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively, in their first round of qualifiers in the summer. Gilbert said preparation has been consistent since then.

“The girls have been good so far. We managed to train every weekend. We had played a few practice games and they looked good. This is a different level of competition, though, and it is going to give us a real test as I am anticipating the speed of how the Costa Ricans will play.

“I think that there will be a number of circumstances where they [Costa Rica] are going to expose some of our weaknesses, and it will give us a good test heading to Haiti and to correct those weaknesses,” said Gilbert.

Amelia Valverde, the Costa Rican coach, also is anticipating a competitive game between the two teams.

“We are really happy to be here in Jamaica. I mean it is a nice culture and we hope that tomorrow (today) it will be a really good match. We want to play good in every department. We want to defend good, we want to attack good and be able to be a better team after the match.

“We want to be a very competitive team for Jamaica as they are strong and the abilities they have are very good, but we are hoping that we can win the match,” Valverde said.

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