ACCORDING to Michael Ricketts, president of Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Xavier Gilbert's dedication to the growth of the senior Reggae Girlz is undeniable, and his extension as interim leader of the squad was never in doubt.
Gilbert, who was named temporary head coach in mid-October for the first two qualifiers of the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup in 2024 against Panama and Guatemala, will see out the rest of the qualifiers. The games are set for November 29 in Jamaica against Panama, and December 3 against Guatemala in Guatemala.
"We think that Xavier [Gilbert] has done well. Xavier is loyal and committed to the process of developing this set of Reggae Girlz and so we have decided to give him an extended run, and then we can do an assessment after," Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer.
"But as it stands now, we are pretty happy with Xavier and his assistant. This will give them the opportunity to work closely with these set of girls to try and see how best we can make them stronger and better and to grow them in terms of their talent and their whole development. It has been recommended by the technical committee," the president further stated.
So far, Gilbert's Reggae Girlz have lost 1-2 away to Panama on October 25 before tying 2-2 at home to Guatemala on October 29. The Jamaicans are at the bottom of the three-team group with one point from two games while the Panamanians lead with six points from three games — two more than Guatemala who have four points from three games as well. The Jamaicans will need to win their next two games to get direct qualification.
"These girls will only get better. I think that we just need to work a little bit on our finishing, and they also need a little bit more composure in the last third. We are hoping to get them in, have some extended training sessions, and try to sharpen them up for the remaining two games.
"They will only get better because they have shown commitment — and obviously they have shown some loyalty — and they just need to transfer that on the field of play. I have liked what I am seeing and, really, we want to ensure that we give them as much as we can to ensure that they can get some results when they actually play," Ricketts said.
The JFF recently paid all fees which were due to players on the 2023 Fifa World Cup team, but their availability for the next two games is still unknown.
"Well, as it is now they have asked for a meeting and so we are planning to have a meeting with them. In the meantime we just have to wait and see, and after the meeting we will be in a position to make further comment in this regard," Ricketts said.