Sports

U-20 Girlz eager to rebound against defending champs USA

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 21, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — It was not the desired start for Jamaica's Under-20 Reggae Girlz to their CONCACAF Women's Championship campaign, but the coaching staff is optimistic they can play catch up.

A 0-4 defeat to Mexico on Friday has left the young Reggae Girlz at the foot of Group B, but they will be looking to turn their fortunes when they take on four-time defending champions United States of America (USA) in a must-win encounter today.

The feature contest is scheduled for 6:30 pm (5:30 pm Jamaica time) at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, after group leaders Mexico square off against Nicaragua in the curtain raiser at 4:00 pm here.

Like Jamaica, the Central Americans are without a point as they went down 0-2 to the second-placed Americans in their opening contest on Friday.

Jamaica's Head Coach Lorne Donaldson admitted the Girlz were completely outplayed against the rampant Mexicans, who remain unbeaten in nine all-time CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship openers.

The 'Tricolour' got their goals courtesy of Jacqueline Ovalle (26th) Katty Martinez (33rd), a 55th-minute own goal by Jamaica's Chyanne Dennis, and substitute Belen Cruz (79th).

“Again, it looked like, and it was the professionals versus the amateurs; they had eight professional players in their squad and they were better than us. We didn't do what we needed to do to slow them down and again we made a lot of mistakes and they capitalised.

“Fitness is always a factor with the Jamaican team, but I thought we were going to play better, but we just didn't play how we were supposed to. I know they (players) are disappointed and the coaching staff is disappointed, but when you don't play well and you give up easy goals that is going to be the end result, it doesn't matter who you are,” Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer in his assessment of the first game.

Donaldson and his assistant Xavier Gilbert took the Girlz through a two-tier 90-minute session at St Josephine Complex yesterday, with the starting players doing light work, while the substitutes and others did tactical drills.

Despite the disappointing result, Donaldson and his players are aware that they will have to adjust and show a lot of improvement if they hope to keep their chances alive with victory in today's game.

The tactician is still confident about the quality and depth of his team, and pointed out that the task is now to keep the girls motivated as he once again stressed that execution will be a key factor.

“The thing about that game was that the Girlz knew they didn't play well and, obviously, I don't think we will play as bad in the next game,” he noted.

“Hopefully we come out and we can execute a little better and we can show more with the disappointment of this game out the way. I am hoping we can come out and play better. I don't know if it was too much butterflies, but I am hoping that is out of the way and we can come back and secure a win.

“We have to keep them positive because they are the ones who went on the field and played their hearts out they played with pride in the jersey and represented the country, so though we are very disappointed we have to keep positive,” Donaldson added.

Donaldson will be sticking with the 4-3-3 formation, but will see a number of changes being made to the starting line-up.

Though not confirmed, the starting line-up could see Sydney Schneider in goal, backed by central defenders Dennis and Jadyn Matthews, who will be flanked by Gabrielle Gayle and Madiya Harriott coming in for Erin Mikalsen.

The ever-composed Giselle Washington could now be partnered with Alyssa Julien, who replaces her fellow Canadian-based Emily Caza in a holding midfield role, with another Canadian Ebony Clarke set to replace Olufolasade Adamolekun behind the strikers.

Those positions could be filled by Jody Brown replacing Jazmin Grant, and Shayla Smart's replacement Marlee Fray to accompany Mireya Grey.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals where the top three teams will qualify for the Women's Under-20 World Cup to be staged in France in August.

Canada currently heads Group A with a superior goal difference over Haiti, following respective 3-1 and 3-2 victories over Costa Rica and hosts Trinidad and Tobago in their opening games on Wednesday.

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