Donaldson celebrating Girlz' success, eyes Paraguay friendly
Jamaica's Trudi Carter (left) gets away from Lauren Scott of Cayman Islands during their Fifa Women's World Cup qualifying contest at Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands, on April 9, 2022.

Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz demonstrated tenacity and willpower throughout the Fifa Women's World Cup qualifying campaign.

But Head Coach Lorne Donaldson believes their resilience, teamwork, skill, and dedication to duty have amplified significantly since they achieved the historic feat of securing a second-consecutive return to the global showpiece.

Donaldson's assessment came on the heels of some the Girlz' success in their respective club environments which he said is a significant component in marketing Jamaica's brand of women's football around the world.

But more importantly, the coach views the characteristics and accomplishments of the Girlz as another a scratch on the surface of what he and previous Head Coach Hue Menzies, Andrew Price, Hubert Busby and others aspire to in women's football locally, as they hope the younger players draw inspiration from the fire of the Reggae Girlz's commitment.

Winger Tiffany Cameron was recently named Hungarian Women's National Championship Player of the Year for the 2021-22 season and striker Trudi Carter, who once endured a difficult period caused by injury, was snatched up by Spanish Women's Premier Division team FC Levante Las Planas, after an impressive campaign with Lithuanian outfit FC Gintra.

Talismanic striker and Captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw maintained good form at Manchester City, while midfielder Drew Spence opened her account in fine style on debut with Tottenham Hotspur on the same day that compatriot goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer again showed class between the sticks on her 100th appearance for the club.

Kayla McCoy was also on the scoresheet for Rangers in the Scottish league.

"I think it's fantastic that when you look at the international scene our ladies are doing well in some of the top leagues around the world and it speaks volumes about how far our programme has come in a sense," Donaldson, who was assistant to Menzies when the Girlz made their first World Cup appearance in France in 2019, told the Jamaica Observer from his base in Colorado.

"It's also good because the World Cup is in focus and performing at this level gives us a lot more credibility as a country and as a team and it's just a great look for the overall programme. Because it is about the younger players that are coming through that we have to make an impression on and I think the Girlz are doing a pretty good job at that," he added.

Since returning to the programme in June, a few weeks prior to the Concacaf Women's Championship, Donaldson pointed out that there has been a change in the general attitude and mentality of the players.

While not taking credit for their hunger and determination to succeed, he explained that the players' current charge is fuelled by what the technical staff brings to the programme.

"I think our technical staff is demanding a lot from the players and I think they are responding by way of their performances," said Donaldson, who is assisted by Xavier Gilbert and Ak Lakhani.

"People are working towards making this World Cup team and we have said it that playing and doing well at a club or college level provides a window of opportunity to be selected to travel on assignments which then gives them a shot to make the final cut," the tactician added.

He continued: "But obviously you would want to go with the ones playing at a high level and also in form, so hopefully this is just a start to what we expected which is everyone performing at a high level.

"Even a Jody Brown at college and others are performing at a high level because we can't forget those players who are not playing professionally. But as they say: iron sharpens iron and they all know there is competition to make the squad so they are pushing themselves.

Though they might not get the opportunity to build on the players' current form with a competitive fixture in next month's Fifa window, Donaldson argued that the lull would also be welcomed to allow players to rest and recover.

The Girlz encounters against 18th-ranked South Korea in the previous window ended in 0-1 and 0-2 losses on the Asian continent.

They were said to have had their sights on engaging Chile for the upcoming October 3-11 window, but that, by all indications, will not materialise.

"I don't think we are going to get anybody for this window, as I said before, I think everybody is a little bit sceptical about the World Cup draw, but it doesn't hurt us," Donaldson declared.

"Because a lot of the Girlz have been on that five-week work period getting ready for the World Cup and then went straight into pre-season and then the college players are in the middle of their seasons vying for play-offs. So it might be a time to catch our breaths, regroup and get ready for the November window," he reasoned.

That November 7-15 window, Donaldson said, will be on Jamaican soil with two games scheduled, one of which Jamaica Observer sources say could see the 42nd-ranked Girlz rubbing shoulders with 51st-ranked Paraguay.

"I can't reveal our opponents as yet because there are some things we are still trying to finalise," Donaldson shared reluctantly.

"That's going to be after the World Cup draw, so if we don't get that opponent then somebody else will be ready to come in.

"But the Girlz are in a good frame of mind and to say the least, they want to perform on the big stage and they want to show up at the World Cup to make their presence felt and they are working towards that. The coaching staff really appreciates what we are seeing and we are in touch with them to keep updated," he ended.

DONALDSON...I think our technical staff is demanding a lot from the players and I think they are responding by way of their performances.
Sherdon Cowan

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