The second leg of the Concacaf Olympic play-off for Paris 2024 between Jamaica and Canada takes place at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, in front of a sold-out crowd tonight at 6:00 pm Jamaica time.
The Canadians lead the tie with a 2-0 victory over the Reggae Girlz at the National Stadium in Kingston on Friday. This was Canada's 10th victory over Jamaica, and it is first in the Caribbean since 1991. Nichelle Prince, who returned from injury, and Adriana Leon, who earned her 100th cap, scored the two goals that gave Canada a crucial lead heading into tonight's game.
Prince netted in the 18th minute when she beat Jamaica's goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer by placing the ball in the bottom left corner following an excellent cross from defender Ashley Lawrence. Leon scored in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, doubling Canada's lead, firing in a volley off a cross from Gabrielle Carle.
While demonstrating disappointment with the setback, captain and Jamaica's all-time leading goal-scorer Khadija Shaw says that the tie is not yet lost.
"I believe we started well as a team," she said. "We started positively. We were on the offensive, and we had a few opportunities earlier in the game that we should have executed. But, in the end, it comes down to the fine margins, being clinical in front of goal, and finishing chances when you have them, which Canada did."
"Yeah, we are very disappointed as we started really well. And that's the start we wanted but, as I said, football comes down to fine margins and we were a little bit off it. So we have to look back at the video and see what we did wrong to correct it for this game.
"We are an underdog team and we have been in tough moments before and so this is nothing new to us. We just have to look at what we did wrong and look at how we can improve going into this game," the 26-year-old said.
Shaw guided her squad to numerous opportunities, but they failed to convert any of them as they demonstrated to the home audience the game they have built over the years. Spencer, however, was always ready and present to defend her area, preventing nearly everything that came her way and providing her squad with the protection they needed to continue the game.
"For me, football is a team effort and that is what I think it is," Shaw said. "Ultimately, the position that I play, fans and people look for me to score, but it is not as easy as it seems. But for me, it's just about keep working hard and keep moving forward."
The winner of this last leg will also qualify for the first Concacaf Women's Gold Cup to be played also next year in the United States.
The loser will drop into Group A of a Women's Gold Cup qualifying tournament. There, they meet Panama and Guatemala in home and away games starting October 25, with an away game in Panama.
The winner of this group would qualify for the Women's Gold Cup Group stage, alongside two other Group A winners. The second-place finishers in these three group A (A1, A2, A3) will join three Group B (B1, B2, B3) winners in the Women's Gold Cup preliminaries to kick off the competition.