Girlz winger Cameron comes to term with reality as injury rules her out
CAMERON...it’s always disappointing to miss out, especially on a crucial tournament such as this, which I was really looking forward to (Photo: Observer file)

Tiffany Cameron’s hope to assist Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz to a second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance met a premature end as a minor muscle strain has ruled her out of the final squad to the Concacaf Women’s Championship in Mexico.

The Canadian-born winger, who scored two goals in the first phase of qualifying, recently concluded a superb season with Hungarian top-flight club Eto FC Gyor and was set on bringing that form over into the July 4-18 Women’s Championship.

However, she picked up the injury a few days after joining her Reggae Girlz teammates for a just-concluded two-week camp at altitude in Denver, Colarado, where they intensified preparation to take on Group A opponents in World champions United States, 26th-ranked Mexico, and Caribbean neighbours Haiti, ranked 60th.

This episode has left Cameron disappointed, to say the least.

“It’s always disappointing to miss out, especially on a crucial tournament such as this, which I was really looking forward to,” a dejected Cameron told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the team broke camp on Tuesday.

“My injury is an overuse injury. It’s recommended that athletes have a full two weeks rest after a season and I didn’t get that. If anything I got one week of full rest and then I trained for a few days leading up to camp. I believe after the strenuous season I had my mental and physical rest was crucial.

“Preseason in Hungary will begin early July, so if I was involved in this tournament my coach asked that I return to Hungary immediately afterwards. Given my situation, when I arrived in camp I was very transparent with the staff on how my body was feeling, and unfortunately I wasn’t gradually eased into things the way I hoped for,” she explained.

“I just needed a full week of progressive training to adjust and get my sharpness back and I communicated this to the staff, but unfortunately time wasn’t on my side. Coach Lorne [Donaldson] and Xavier [Gilbert] expressed to me in my exiting meeting that because there were six other players competing in the same position as me, they were comfortable enough that they could get the job done without my help and didn’t think it was necessary to risk travelling me, regardless of my situation,” Cameron continued.

She is the second member of the team that made a historic appearance at the 2019 World Cup in France who will not be on hand to assist the team through this crucial qualifying tournament.

Midfielder Marlo Sweatman, who also plies her trade in Hungary, was not included in the 26 that took part in the camp, which ultimately ruled her out for selection.

Still, Cameron, who scored 17 goals with six assists in 23 appearances that helped her team win the Hungarian cup for the first time in history, is hoping the recovery will be as quick as expected so she can reclaim a spot in the team if called upon to do so.

“The doctor said I will be OK in a week’s time, probably. I do believe that I deserve to be there and I would have been okay to play by next week, whether it was in the first game or by the USA game, but that wasn’t my call,” she said.

Another Canadian-born player Jayda Hylton-Pelaia is the only fairly new face in the final 24-member squad as she has not made an appearance since her senior debut at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru.

Liverpool’s Jade Bailey, London City Lionesses Atlanta Primus, and Racing Louisville defender Satara Murray are also in Lorne Donaldson’s final squad which boasts a core of the 2019 World Cup players, including Deneisha Blackwood and Havana Solaun, who both recently returned from injuries.

The team was expected to arrive in Monterrey on Tuesday ahead of a four-day camp to fine-tune for the Concacaf Women’s Championship opener against the host nation next Monday.

After Mexico, the Girlz will tackle United States on July 7 and Haiti on July 11 in the preliminary round.

Cameron wished her teammates luck ahead of their first encounter.

“I am sure the ladies will give their best on the pitch, I am backing them all the way and just looking forward to coming back stronger,” she noted.

Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, and Trinidad and Tobago will contest Group B.

The top two teams from each group will qualify directly to the World Cup, while the third-placed teams will qualify for the inter-continental play-offs.

In addition, the group winners will qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games and the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, while the second and third-placed teams will advance to the Concacaf Olympic play-off.

Squad: Sydney Schneider, Chantelle Swaby, Jade Bailey, Vyan Sampson, Havana Solaun, Chinyelu Asher, Kayla McCoy, Atlanta Primus, Khadija Shaw, Sashana Campbell, Rebecca Spencer, Deneisha Blackwood, Allyson Swaby, Tiernny Wiltshire, Drew Spence, Satara Murray, Yazmeen Jamieson, Trudi Carter, Jody Brown, Mireya Grey, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Kalyssa Van Zanten, Jayda Hylton-Pelaia.

Sherdon Cowan

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