Tough road as Girlz seek lifeline away to Guatemala
INTERIM Head Coach Xavier Gilbert and his technical staff will be hoping Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz will be in the best condition possible as they take on hosts Guatemala in their must-win Concacaf W Gold Cup Qualifier today at Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, starting at 7:00 pm Jamaica time.
The team landed in Guatemala City late Thursday night but cancelled training Friday afternoon after concerns arose regarding the players’ recovery following Wednesday’s match with Panama at the National Stadium in Kingston.
However, the Jamaican women participated in activation sessions on Friday and were set to train on Saturday evening, with the staff reporting no injuries or fitness concerns heading into this evening’s content.
The Girlz, on two points, missed out on automatic qualification following the 1-1 draw with the Panamanians, but a win against second-placed Guatemalans (four points) would secure a place in the play-offs.
Though criticised for his intent on Wednesday, Gilbert says the team will approach today’s game differently.
“We’re going to have to be a little more aggressive but in terms objectives, how we set out, and areas we need to exploit, it’s going to be the same or similar. And how we defend against them is going to be a little bit different because we know their threat and where we suspect they’re going to attack us from, so we’re going to fix or at least attempt to fix [this issue and] then, hopefully, we [will] come out and execute and get the intended result,” said Gilbert.
Jamaica were held 2-2 by Guatemala in their encounter back in October but this time around Captain Chinyelu Asher has a more optimistic view.
“We’re already continuing to build on the chemistry; we played three games together and we’re starting to gel a bit more so I think that will be a really good advantage for us and just being confident — and we have a lot of talent,”she said.
“I think we are just as confident as [when] we entered the game [against Panama]. This group has shown a lot and proven themselves a lot. It’s a young group but we’ve been coming out very hungry and I think we’re very confident we can pull [off] a win. We’re not going to take Guatemala easy — they’re going to come out strong as well — but I think we definitely have what it takes to get some points there,” she added.
However, Guatemala Head Coach Karla Aleman says her squad is more prepared as they also seek to make the play-offs.
“I believe that the selection team is already very clear about where we made mistakes and how to correct them — that is what we have been working on — so we have to realise that and go into the field respecting Jamaica a lot, seeing them for the size they are but also feeling our strength and our capacity to go forward and look for the score.”
A win for the Jamaicans would seem them advance to February’s play-offs while the Guatemalans only need a draw to move on.