When the Hue Menzies-led Jamaica Reggae Girls qualified for the World Cup, many became worried immediately about whether the Girlz will be able to make an impact at the highest stage of football.
"So, what is really required to move on from the group stage?" is the question on many Jamaicans' tongues, especially because the Jamaican Reggae Boyz made little impact two decades ago, in the same country (France) in the exact tournament. The Reggae Girlz are the first team from the Caribbean to qualify for the prestigious tournament, and many are looking to them to produce something spectacular as one of underdogs, as well as to set an example that other Caribbean Islands will want to follow in hopes of achieving their berth to world cup the next time around.
So what do they need?
1. A Fearless spirit
The girls will have to be as fearless as lionesses, because making to the World Cup is a great achievement in itself, and a graduation from the group will be considered as over-achieving by many. With little or no pressure on them to produce as first-timers, a courageous attitude will have to be displayed by the Girlz. They are the lowest ranked team among the group members, so many are not expecting the girls to advance, but if Khadijah Shaw and company put on similar performances to the ones they gave in the qualifiers, then expectations for the Girlz to move on from the group should be high and swinging. Attacking and defending without fear is key for the girls.
Strategic game management
When going up against more experienced opponents, game management is very important. You will not want to go out defending and piling pressure on yourself, but neither will you want to go out hard attacking and being caught on the counter, so a balance must be struck. Menzies and his girls will have to take the game step-by-step, and look at what the team brings to the table. At the starting of every game the girls will certainly be looking to not concede, because a clean sheet will definitely bring a win or a draw.
Another way the Girlz can maximize their chances of moving up is by getting an early goal in each game, which will leave the coach to decide whether to focus on defense, which puts them at risk, or going for the second goal against a team that is probably better than you, which is also risky, because you can be caught on the counter. Many of the tactics that Menzies will employ will have to come down to the opponent they're facing, whether going for the second goal or sticking with the goal they already have. Winning one and settling for a point each in the other games will be enough for them to advance to the knockout stages of the world cup.