South Korea friendlies seen as valuable preparation — Girlz coach
Assistant Coach Xavier Gilbert is flanked by Reggae Girlz ace Jodi Brown (left) and Khadija Shaw.

World Cup-bound Reggae Girlz will play South Korea in a friendly in South Korea on September 3 and Assistant Coach Xavier Gilbert sees it as value preparation toward Australia/New Zealand 2023.

The match, which will take place in Hwaseong Sports Complex, will be the first of two games as the countries will also play a closed training match on September 6 at Paju National Football Training Centre (NFC).

"We have never played a team of this nature, and this would give us good preparation...they play a similar brand of football to the Japanese and Chinese, and you can imagine that we draw one of those teams in the World Cup, so playing them now will give us a good idea what to expect and to exploit their strengths and take advantage of their weaknesses," Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.

Korea are ranked 18th in the world, while Jamaica are ranked 42nd, and this presents, Gilbert argues, a chance for the Jamaicans to test themselves against a powerhouse from the Asian continent.

GILBERT...we have never played a team of this nature, and this would give us good preparation

"We must also remember that they are ranked 18th in the world and they are pretty much a permanent fixture at the World Cup, and they normally do well on the international stage," he noted.

With the match scheduled inside the Fifa women's international match calendar, all available professionals are eligible for selection, but according to Gilbert, many of them will be unavailble for various reasons, opening the door for national players at the lower level to step up and show what they have to offer.

"It's difficult to take any of the locals now as they have not being playing competively, so it would not be wise to take them when they are not in any condition to compete at that level. What we are doing is that we are looking at some of our Under-20 players and other young players to see how they will matriculate to this level. We will certainly have quite a few players who played in the qualifiers, but, obviously, we will not be able to get some of them at this time," he said.

The second match on September 6 against the host is seen as a bonus to give the coaching panel the chance to see most, if not all, players who will make the trip.

"It would make no sense to fly all the way over there just to play one game, so we tried to get that second game in, and this would give us the opportunity to get all the players to play against quality opponents and get quality minutes, and that is the purpose of both games," Gilbert reasoned.

These will be the first encounter between the nations and the first games for the Girlz since historically qualifying for back-to-back World Cups, following on the heels of France 2019.

— Sean Williams

Sean Williams

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