Paraguay friendlies to boost Girlz' preparation ahead of World Cup — Donaldson
DONALDSON...every game we play has meaning (Photo: Observer file)

HAVING opted to use the October match window to allow players to rest and reset, Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz Head Coach Lorne Donaldson says the two friendlies against Paraguay next month represent the first steps toward intensifying preparations for the Fifa Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next year.

Donaldson, speaking with the Jamaica Observer, hinted at the possibility of the fixtures for the November 7-15 window but was unable to confirm details as they were yet to finalise with the South Americans.

Now with things all locked in, the tactician is eager to have his 42nd-ranked team test their skills against the 51st-ranked Paraguay during a camp which will mark the first international window after the official draw scheduled for later this month.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) on Monday announced the games for November 10 and 13 at the Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay and the National Stadium in Kingston.

"Every game we play has meaning but these games are more important because it not only gives Jamaican fans another opportunity to see the Girlz at home, but they are also the first steps towards upping our tempo for the World Cup," Donaldson said shortly after finalising contractual agreements with the local governing body.

Though Paraguay came away 3-1 winners when the teams last met at the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru, Donaldson believes both teams would have improved significantly since then, which should make for another interesting contest as he continues to assess players for his final squad for the global showpiece.

On the other hand, the fixtures also provide an opportunity for Paraguay, who finished fourth in the South American Women's qualifiers, to fine-tune ahead of the intercontinental play-offs in New Zealand in February. They will be among 10 teams vying for the final three spots to the World Cup.

"We know that in a World Cup there are different variations of tiers and styles and so we wanted to again test ourselves against these South Americans because we still don't know what the draw will deal us. So they are a perfect fit at this stage, given what both of us want to achieve," Donaldson said.

"All those team have improved and their style has improved. So, just like us, we have to look at them see what they bring to the table so that after the draw we can go back and have a reference to watch who they play and see how we match up against them, if we draw one of those [South American] teams," he added.

To signal his intentions about ensuring their preparations hit a new gear, Donaldson, who is assisted by Xavier Gilbert and Ak Lakhani, also hinted at the possibility of a December camp to possibly cap the year on a high.

"We all know we have to be at the top of our game to win at the highest levels, and the dedication of the entire group to that pursuit will never change," he said.

"So that [December camp] is a possibility but will be dependent on the availability of players. We are going to look at the logistics and, if it is possible, then we will push for it because a camp would be good in those times.

"We just have to see exactly what the players need and we work from that. I'm sure some of the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League) players and some college players who are done with their commitments would relish a camp but the European-based players are a little bit different. so we would have to look at it to see how many players we can get in — even if it is a small camp," Donaldson declared.

Sherdon Cowan

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