Jamaica's women take on mighty USA in crunch World Cup qualifier

MONTERREY, Mexico — Jamaica will tackle the United States of America (USA) in a Group A top-of-the-table clash at the Concacaf Women's Championship knowing victory would basically seal a World Cup berth. Game time is 6:00 pm.

USA, the back-to-back world champions, and Jamaica have three points each, while Mexico and Haiti, who battle at 9:00 pm in the second encounter at the Estadio BBVA, are both without a point.

With the top two teams from the group advancing to the semi-finals, and by extension the Fifa World Cup to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023, the US vs Reggae Girlz game is one of epic proportions.

Jamaica have never tasted victory against the mighty Americans.

"There is a reason why they are the world champions because they are the best in the world for a long, long time," Reagge Girlz Head Coach Donaldson told the Jamaica Observer.

"So obviously we know what they bring and we have to come out and fight even harder in this game than our last game".

The last time the teams met in the World Cup qualifiers, the Americans won 6-0 in 2018. The US beat the Jamaicans 4-0 as recently as last June in the 2021 Summer Series, but Donaldson is hoping for an improved performance.

"We don't want to make it easy, so hopefully we can be very discipline when we play and stick to our guns," said Donaldson.

US Coach Vlatko Andonovski, speaking at the press conference, said he expected a "tough" game from the Jamaicans.

"It will be tough and they will provide problems for our backline and that's what we want. We want to play teams that create different challenges for us and hopefully if we overcome everything and make the World Cup, this will be a good preparation for us," said Andonovski.

He continued: "Formation wise I don't think there will be a surprise for us in terms of the 4-2-3-1. That's what we expect from Jamaica and at the same time systematically, they will defend slightly different than Haiti. I can see them defending 4-4-1-1 or even 4-5-1 at some point".

Andonovski also singled out Jamaica's all-time top scorer Khadija Shaw as a force to be reckoned with.

"We do expect them to create challenges. There are some similarities with Jamaica and Haiti but I think 'Bunny' Shaw is just a little bit more powerful when she holds the ball and obviously, she has incredible ability to distribute the ball," he pointed out.

"Another thing which I think they are very dangerous [at] is the set plays as they show that they can score goals and win games on set plays," he added.

Following their epic battle with Mexico on Monday, Jamaica had a pool session with the starting players as part of the recovery process and a separate training session with the players that got no or very few minutes during that game.

According to Donaldson, though there is no injury worries changes to the starting team are likely but he wanted to delay the decision until after the final training session which was slated for 6:00 pm on Wednesday.

"Obviously you cannot play the same eleven players in a tournament like these especially when the condition is hot and all that," he explained.

"So yes, we will make some changes but we don't know who yet and I won't say who yet. We just going to look at the training session and see how it goes," said Donaldson.

"We have a bunch of girls we always call them fighters. They have been in the underdog role for so long. They want to prove that they can play football and I think they are going to go out there and assert themselves," he noted

"Again, US is a very difficult team but we want to go out there and make it very difficult for them and get a result too," he added.

In this file photo, Jamaica's Marlo Sweatman tries to get away from Kelly O'Hara of United States during the 2018 Concacaf Women's Championship semi-final match at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. (Photo: Concacaf)
Jamaica's Captain Khadija Shaw celebrates after scoring the all-important goal against hosts Mexico during the opening Concacaf Women's Championship Group A encounter at Estadio Universitario in Monterrey on Monday. (Photo: Concacaf)
Howard Walker

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