Donaldson critical of squandered chances in Reggae Girlz's loss to Canada
Jamaica's Jody Brown (right) takes a shot ahead of Canada's Jade Rose (left) during the first-leg Olympic Games qualifying match at the National Stadium on Friday. Looking on is Canada's Kadeisha Buchanan. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Jamaica senior women's football team Head Coach Lorne Donaldson says they must start scoring goals and not squander opportunities if they are to win games.

Donaldson's remarks follow the Reggae Girlz's 2-0 loss to Canada in their first-leg match at the National Stadium on Friday, putting a huge dent in their hopes of a historic Olympic Games qualification.

The Canadians took an early lead when forward Nichelle Prince converted a header just 18 minutes in. They maintained control before Adriana Leon solidified the win with another goal three minutes into stoppage time.

Despite the Canadians outplaying the Jamaicans for majority of the game, Donaldson says, the outcome might have been different had the Reggae Girlz taken advantage of their opportunities in front of goal.

Jamaica's Atlanta Primus (centre) fires ahead of Canada's Captain Jessie Flemming (left) and Ashley Lawrence (right) during the first of two Olympic Qualifiers at the National Stadium on Friday, September 22, 2023. Canada's Kedeisha Buchanan looks on. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

"We had a couple of chances and we didn't finish them," he said. "Canada got their chance and they finished it. For the first 50 to 60 minutes, they were better than us moving the ball around and they did some stuff that really caught us off guard tactically. We made the adjustment but chasing a one-goal lead, a lot of times you then gave up another one and that's what happened.

"So we have to now go to Canada and change our fortune and make something happen differently. There's not a lot of satisfaction when you lose games. We weren't as good as we should be. Maybe for the first 10 or 15 minutes we got two chances that we should have done something better with.

"Canada had one and they finished it and so right there it could have been a big difference. Chasing the game is very difficult at times when you play good teams. Canada are the defending champions and I think we had forgotten that."

Donaldson predicted that future games against teams with lower skill levels could help the Reggae Girlz gain confidence.

DONALDSON...hopefully we can find a way and get through this situation and start scoring some more goals (Photo: AFP)

"Canada is a team that played like a 100 games together," he said. "We are a team that is coming together and we are still searching for some combinations that we think can work. Scoring goals is very difficult. I mean, we haven't played anybody who is a slouch so we have to get games that are winnable games for us that we can start building and building.

"But it doesn't come easy when you play teams like Canada, France, and Brazil among others, but hopefully we can find a way and get through this situation and start scoring some more goals."

It was expected to be an exciting competition because Jamaica were seeking to become the first women's football team from the Caribbean to compete at the Olympic Games and Canada, the defending Olympic champions, are attempting to defend their championship.

At the opening of the game, both teams went on the offensive in search of the game's first goal. The Jamaicans had the first chance to score, but skipper Khadija Shaw was unable to convert a lovely pass from Deneisha Blackwood inside the box in the fourth minute.

National senior women's football team Head Coach Lorne Donaldson(Photo: AFP)

Jody Brown got one too many touches inside the box in the 13th minute and squandered an opportunity. Her fancy footwork was just for the sake of the onlookers.

On the other hand, the Canadians made the most of their chance in the 18th minute thanks to a header by Prince, who scored her 14th goal for Canada against Jamaica. Prince managed to beat Jamaica's goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer by placing the ball in the bottom left corner following an excellent cross from defender Ashley Lawrence.

The Reggae Girlz sought to recover control with a handful of scoring chances, but the attackers were unable to capitalise. In the 34th minute, Vanessa Gilles of Canada blocked Cheyna Matthews' effort after the Jamaican had given herself a chance from a loose ball in the area.

Canada went into the half leading 1-0.

The Canadians came out to resume the onslaught in search of additional goals, but Spencer was equal to a couple of fantastic chances from Cloe Lacasse and Leon.

In the 47th minute, Leon, who was playing in her 100th game, nearly scored Canada's second goal from a corner kick, but the ball struck the post instead. The Jamaicans were able to stay in the game as Spencer stopped Leon from close range in the 57th minute.

The Jamaicans had their chances, but the attackers failed to capitalise on the momentum.

The Reggae Girlz had a wonderful opportunity in the 67th minute when substitute Tiffany Cameron latched onto a rebound, but her shot flew just inches over the crossbar.

Shaw and substitutes Solai Washington and Kayla McKenna, who played as if their lives depended on it, infused some life into Jamaica's attacking unit with their spirited run of play. However, the finishes were once again subpar.

Leon found a way past Spencer in the third minute of second-half stoppage time, doubling Canada's lead, firing in a volley off a cross from Gabrielle Carle.

Donaldson says that all of his players should be healthy and ready to go for the second game, despite some of them having minor injuries coming into the game.

"I think everybody now should be available," he said. "Tiffany Cameron was carrying a little strain and we didn't want to chance it and make it worse. Chantelle Swaby was carrying a bad sprain and we think she is going to be okay for the second game. Unless something should happen tonight that we don't know sabout yet, I think everybody should be okay and ready to go."

The Reggae Girlz were scheduled to depart the island on Sunday for the second and final leg of this qualifier. It will be played on Tuesday at BMO Field in Toronto, Canada, in which the winner will take the last spot for Paris 2024 and qualify for the first Women's Gold Cup.


Jamaica — Rebecca Spencer, Allyson Swaby, Konya Plummer, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, Vyan Sampson, Drew Spence, Jody Brown (Solai Washington 55th), Atlanta Primus (Kayla McKenna 71st), Cheyna Matthews (Tiffany Cameron 55th), Khadija Shaw

Subs not used: Sydney Schneider, Liya Brooks, Sashana Campbell, Chantelle Swaby, Kameron Simmonds, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Trudi Carter, Shaneil Buckley, Paige Bailey-Gayle

Booked: None

Canada — Kailen Sheridan, Sydney Collins, Kadeisha Buchanan, Rebecca Quinn, Ashley Lawrence (Gabby Carle 82nd), Vanessa Gilles, Nichelle Prince (Jordyn Huitema 64th), Jessie Fleming (Julia Grosso 79th), Adriana Leon, Cloe Lacasse, Jade Rose (Shelina Zadorsky 79th)

Subs not used: Lysianne Proulx, Sabrina D'Angelo, Olivia Smith, Marie-Yasmine Alidou, Evelyne Viens, Christine Sinclair, Simi Awujo, Bianca St-Georges

Booked: Gillies (54th), Grosso (90+5)

Referee: Ekaterina Koroleva (USA)

Assistant referees: Kathryn Nesbitt (USA); Felisha Mariscal (USA)

Fourth official: Natalie Simon (USA)

Match commissary: Techell McLean (SKN)

BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter ruddya@jamaicaobserver.com

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