Best of luck to the Reggae Girlz; and a word of caution to the Boyz
FILE - Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate after their 4-0 win over Haiti on Monday. (Photo: Howard Walker)

Having seen the Reggae Boyz exit the Concacaf Gold Cup after a good run to the semi-final, Jamaican football fans are now looking to the Reggae Girlz to do well at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Realistically, the Reggae Girlz, grouped with powerful France and Brazil as well as fellow Concacaf nation Panama, won't be favoured to be among two advancing to the next round.

Indeed, such an achievement would represent success of earth-shaking proportions.

However, we believe the current squad is stronger in terms of talent and maturity than that which made history in 2019 by reaching the World Cup finals for the first time. In that respect Jamaicans expect an improved performance compared to 2019 when all three first-round games were lost.

That said, we recognise that the build up to this tournament has not been ideal. We note complaints of an inadequacy in warm-up games.

Very discomforting have been reports of squabbles regarding player remuneration, and so forth.

We note allegations — aimed at the top brass of the Jamaica Football Federation — of mismanagement of the World Cup preparation programme.

The Reggae Girlz will open their campaign on July 23 against France in what we expect will be cool conditions at the height of the southern hemisphere winter in Sydney.

Extensive travel will follow to first meet Panama about 2,000 miles to the west in Perth on July 29, then another 1,600 miles back east to Melbourne to face Brazil on August 2.

It won't be easy, but the Reggae Girlz should know that Jamaicans are behind them.

Regarding the Reggae Boyz campaign at the Gold Cup which ended with a 0-3 defeat to classy Mexico in the semi-final on Wednesday night, we believe beneficial lessons were learnt ahead of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

The Jamaicans did well, in first drawing with hosts United States to earn a point, followed up by easy first round victories over St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago, and a hard-fought 1-0 win over admirably tough Guatemala in the quarter-final round.

Without doubt, skilful, fast-moving Mexico fully deserved their semi-final win. The early goal — within two minutes of the opening whistle — certainly destabilised the Jamaicans, and their opponents never released their stranglehold even though the Reggae Boyz improved in the second half.

Jamaicans will now watch with interest as Mexico face Panama — shock semi-final winners over the United States — in this weekend's Gold Cup final.

We have consistently made the point that in theory, the Reggae Boyz should have an improved chance of reaching the 2026 FIFA men's World Cup to be hosted by Mexico, United States, and Canada. That's because the host nations will automatically qualify and therefore will not be contending for an additional three, possibly four spots, at the World Cup which will now have an unprecedented 48 teams.

However, what Jamaicans learnt over the past two weeks — just in case they had thought otherwise — is that while theoretically, it should be easier to qualify for the next global football tournament, it will not be a free run.

Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, among others, will also be determinedly seeking glory.

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