Sport

Young Reggae Girlz bow into action against Dom Rep in final round CFU qualifiers

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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The three-month-plus wait for the final phase of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 Women's Championships qualifiers has now come to an end for Jamaica's young Reggae Girlz, as they bow into action against Dominican Republic today.

The Jamaicans will be in the curtain-raising contest at 5:00 pm (4:00 pm Jamaica time) at the Warner Park Sporting Complex in Basseterre, St Kitts, hours before Haiti take on the hosts in the feature contest at 7:30 pm.

The team had its first extensive preparation with the full squad yesterday since departing the island for Trinidad and Tobago last week, and assistant coach Xavier Gilbert was happy with the response.

“The players are looking good so far. we are pretty impressed with a few of them, so there are some positives as well as uncertainties as we are still not sure if Ebony Clarke has fully recovered as yet. But I like what I saw yesterday and we are confident heading into tomorrow's (today's) first game,” Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer by telephone yesterday.

Despite losing the two friendly encounters against Trinidad and Tobago by 1-0 scorelines, Gilbert believed it gave their preparation phase a huge boost heading into this tournament.

“The friendly contest against Trinidad really did us a good deal in terms of having a good look at the players, getting ready, and building the team chemistry for this tournament.

“So that was a big plus and I must give credit to both the Jamaica Football Federation and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association for making it possible, and we appreciate it,” Gilbert stated.

The Jamaicans, who comfortably came through the first-round qualifiers with 10-0 and 2-1 scorelines over Curacao and Bermuda, respectively, are favoured to secure one of two spots to the CONCACAF championships to be hosted by the twin island republic next year.

However, their first task at doing that commences with Dominican Republic.

“We are confident of a good performance. we don't know much about the opponent, but I know our girls will be competitive; they are currently in good spirits and looking forward to the game, so we expect good things from them tomorrow,” the tactician noted.

Gilbert and Head Coach Lorne Donaldson have not fully decided on their starting 11, but are tentatively looking at a 4-3-3 formation, which could see Sydney Schneider in goal guarded by defenders Emily Caza, Nevillgail Able, Jadyn Matthews and Erin Mikalsen.

Tarania Clarke, Giselle Washington and Alyssa Julien could marshal the midfield, with Shayla Smart, Olufolasade Adamolekun and Marlee Fray making up the attacking line.

The Caribbean winners will be pitted in Group B alongside defending champions United States and another powerhouse in Mexico, along with Central Americans Nicaragua.

The runner-up team would be pitted in Group A alongside Trinidad & Tobago, Costa Rica and Canada.

The top three teams of the tournament will qualify for the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in France.

— Sherdon Cowan

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