Busby thinks Houston friendlies progressive way to kick-start qualifying programmeFriday, May 14, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
THOUGH welcoming the retention of most of the France 2019 World Cup players, and by extension an expanded player pool, Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hubert Busby is now faced with the challenge of getting everyone on the same page ahead of the next qualifying campaign.
Still, it is a task that he is very much eager to take on as the circumstances behind the delayed start to their preparations were beyond is control.
Records will show that the senior Reggae Girlz team last assembled for the Olympic Qualifiers – with their very last result being a 7-0 thrashing of St Kitts and Nevis in Edinburgh, Texas – on February 4, 2020.
Since then, the coronavirus pandemic crippled the sporting world and as such, all plans by Busby and his team to engage in camps and friendly games were thrown out the proverbial window.
Growing the player pool is in Busby's immediate interest but he has very little time to blend and integrate players based on different continents, especially with the World Cup qualifiers fast approaching.
However, a two-match friendly series in the USA next month will provide an opportunity for Busby and his technical staff to not only get the band back together to kick-start preparations, but also to delve into their roster composition with 31 players listed for the upcoming camp and games.
“When the games were confirmed I thought they were two tough matches to come back with, but what better way to get back in action than to test ourselves against the world's best, having been away close to 17 months? So, at the end of the day it is really about what is going to take place in November.
“The number one thing for us is to essentially be under the same roof. Again, it has been an awfully long time away from international duties so I think the enthusiasm alone is going to bode well for us all, and we want to use that to build some momentum,” Busby told the Jamaica Observer.
“The players are really excited to come in and we, the coaching staff, are excited to do our part in terms of incorporating the new players into the programme. Once they come in, they are going to be welcomed with open arms and I know some of the World Cup players are eager to rub shoulders with these new players so, from a coaching standpoint, that's going to be very exciting,” he added.
Tottenham Hotspurs' Rebecca Spencer, Drew Spence of Chelsea, Liverpool's Jade Bailey, Shania Hayles of Aston Villa and Chiara Ritchie-Williams of Louisiana State University, are the new players to the programme.
In addition, Peyton McNamara transitions from the Under-20 level into the senior set-up.
Former Arsenal defender Vyan Sampson, now representing Charlton FC, makes a return to the set-up after injury saw her playing no real part in the Girlz' camp prior to their historic World Cup appearance.
For these, their introduction to the Reggae Girlz outfit will virtually be a baptism of fire as they will come face to face with world champions the USA and African flag bearers Nigeria as part of US Soccer 2021 Women's National Team (WNT) Summer Series, presented by AT&T 5G.
Busby believes there is no better way for these players to really earn their stripes than against two of the world's best teams.
The 51st-ranked Girlz will cross swords with 38th-ranked Nigeria on June 10 before battling world number one and hosts the USA three days later.
“These games are a part of our blocks that we continue to add to the foundation that we have laid over the past year in terms of our playing models and philosophy.
“While we aim to make sure that the core of the players that were crucial to our qualifying for France are together to build up on that success, it also allows us to evaluate not only players that have been looking to come in for a while now but players from the U-20 set-up that have matriculated through the system. So, it is a very exciting time for women's football in Jamaica,” the former Jamaica goalkeeper noted.
With the next Fifa windows being in September and October before the first round of qualification takes place in November, Busby is hoping to capitalise on every available opportunity he can have with players outside of those windows.
“We are also looking at another camp possibly at the end of July, maybe early August, depending on players' availability. That camp would include players that weren't involved in the friendlies,” the tactician shared.
“One of the great things about the last few years is that we have been able to expand the pool of players in terms of the national team players so we are just simply not able to see all of them at once – but there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes to ensure that every single player is given an opportunity to represent their country,” he ended.
Provisional squad: Sydney Schneider, Rebecca Spencer, Chantelle Swaby, Madiya Harriott, Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Dominique Bond-Flasza, Deneisha Blackwood, Havana Solaun, Chinyelu Asher, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Drew Spence, Peyton McNamara, Jadyn Matthews, Chiara Ritchie-Williams, Sashana Campbell, Tiernny Wiltshire, Jody Brown, Khadija Shaw, Shania Hayles, Gabrielle Gayle, Shayla Smart, Kayla McCoy, Vyan Sampson, Cheyna Matthews, Jade Bailey, Yazmeen Jamieson, Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, Marlo Sweatman, Tiffany Cameron and Trudi Carter
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