Girlz growing despite Olympic setback, says assistant coach
Canada's Nichelle Prince (left) and Jamaica's Allyson Swaby vie for the ball during the first half of the second leg of the Concacaf Olympic Games qualifier in Toronto, Canada, on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

Although the final result was an undesirable one, Xavier Gilbert, Jamaica's senior women's football team assistant coach, believes the Reggae Girlz deserve credit for their performance against Canada in the two-legged Olympic Games qualifiers.

Jamaica were 0-2 at the National Stadium on Friday and 1-2 at BMO Field in Toronto on Tuesday to lose 1-4 on aggregate to the Canadians.

While Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon had scored on Friday, Cloe Lacasse (39th minute) and Jordyn Huitema (50th minute) got the goals for the hosts on Tuesday after Drew Spencer's superb free kick in the 33rd minute had given Jamaica a surprise 1-0 lead.

With the victory, Canada became the fifth country to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. They joined hosts France, Concacaf champions United States, and CONMEBOL's top two countries, Brazil and Colombia. The Canadians have also qualified for the Concacaf Women's Gold Cup to be held in the United States next year.

GILBERT...some of them even broke down into tears after the game, but we just have to pick ourselves up and keep going (Photo: Observer file)

Though conceding there were inadequacies in some areas, Gilbert complimented the Girlz for their effort, particularly in the second leg.

"I thought the Girlz gave a good performance. We wanted to score at least one goal before half-time, and we got that goal. Unfortunately, we conceded, and I believe that set us back," he said.

"It was a good attempt, and it just goes to show how much we are growing in the region and on the global stage, so I must give credit to the Girlz.

"The Girlz are disappointed because they wanted to make the country proud. Some of them even broke down into tears after the game, but we just have to pick ourselves up and keep going," Gilbert explained.

Despite failing to qualify for the Olympics, the Reggae Girlz are still in the running for a Gold Cup place.

The Jamaicans have been placed in the Gold Cup qualifying tournament. There, they are set to meet Panama and Guatemala in home and away games. Their opening encounter of that tournament is scheduled for October 25, away to Panama.

The winner of the group will automatically qualify for the Women's Gold Cup first round, alongside two other group winners. The second-place finishers will enter the Women's Gold Cup preliminaries in a bid to advance to the competition proper.

Ruddy Allen

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