INTERIM Head Coach Xavier Gilbert believes the Reggae Girlz’ inexperience was a factor in them failing to qualify for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup following their 1-1 draw with hosts Guatemala on Sunday.
Davia Richards’ 66th-minute strike saw the national senior women’s team come from a goal down, after falling behind in the 10th minute from Ana Lucia Martinez’s penalty. While they gained a point, it wasn’t good enough as they finished bottom of the three-team group on three points, two behind Guatemala who advance to February’s play-offs to try and earn one of the three remaining spots.
Gilbert was disappointed his team couldn’t get the job done.
“It was a tough game, [and] I didn’t think we executed as best as we could and should have — especially in the first half. Second half we were a lot better, more aggressive, and played with a purpose, hence we got that goal. Unfortunately we couldn’t advance but, nevertheless, we’re proud and happy in how we executed in the second half,” he said.
“It’s a learning curve for all the players, [who are] young and inexperienced at this level, but I think they gave it their all and I’m proud and happy the way they executed,” Gilbert added.
He pointed to areas he felt the Jamaican women could have improved on.
“We could have and should have managed the game better, especially the way we started. I didn’t think we started the way we wanted to start; and the game plan as much as possible was to get the ball in behind them and run at them. I thought the surface contributed [because] they want to dribble and the grass was heavy. We needed to press, and then we needed to be more aggressive in terms of closing the ball down. We tried to take balls behind us, and it worked [in] most part, but I think we had some moments where we saw there was danger and we tried to play around rather than clearing our danger, and those are some aspects we could have done better,” Gilbert assessed.
Though they won’t be competing in the inaugural Gold Cup set for February 20 to March 10 in the United States, Gilbert still wants the national team to be active.
“Hopefully, the Fifa window in February is an opportunity for the Reggae Girlz to play again. I know the JFF will be working on that to ensure, and hopefully, we can have full strength or our stronger set of girls to participate in that window,” he said.
The players who competed at last summer’s Fifa Women’s World Cup, as well as the Concacaf Olympic Qualifiers, made themselves unavailable for the Gold Cup qualifiers due to their ongoing impasse with Jamaica Football Federation, with Captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw citing that some of the players still haven’t received outstanding payments.