Sports

Reggae Girlz brace for the marauding USA

SHERDON COWAN
AT THE CONCACAF U-20
WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP
In Trinidad
AT THE CONCACAF U-20
WOMEN’S CHAMPION

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Dallas , USA — Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz will take the first of three bites at the cherry for a historic Fifa World Cup qualification when they oppose top-ranked United States in the Concacaf Women's Championships semi-final here today.

For many of the players within the current Reggae Girlz team ranked 64th internationally, this will be one of, if not the biggest game of their careers, as they face a tough task of getting by defending world champions United States. But they are not without hope of upsetting the apple cart.

The two will meet at 7:00 pm (same time as Jamaica), after Canada battle Panama in the first game of a double-header at 20,500-capacity Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Both semi-final winners will qualify automatically to the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France, as will the third-placed team.

If the Jamaicans, who are making their sixth appearance in the championship, fail in today's semi-final, they will have another opportunity in Wednesday's third-place encounter against the loser of the other semi-final.

And if they fail to better their fourth-place finish from 2006, then the Reggae Girlz will have one final opportunity against Argentina in an intercontinental home-and-home series for the 24th and final spot.

Though the weather in Dallas has been rainy and chilly since the team arrived here on Friday, the Jamaicans have been gradually acclimatising at the Westin Hotel, situated approximately half hour from the stadium.

Head Coach Hue Menzies was scheduled to conduct a session at an indoor facility at Prosper High School yesterday, to run through some tactical drills, as he believes the task at hand is not beyond them.

“It can't get any better than this. we have done our job to get to this point where we have to get at least one win out of two tries, so we are quietly confident going into the game,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer.

The Reggae Girlz head into today's contest on a high after a stunning 1-0 win over 2014 runners-up Costa Rica, followed by a 9-0 thumping of neighbours Cuba. They earlier went down 0-2 to fifth-ranked Canada, who topped Group B.

“So we are on a little path now where we want to create some more history, so we are going into the game to continue that momentum and hopefully we will get the results that we need,” the tactician noted.

Despite quiet optimism, Menzies is by no means oblivious to the challenge to come from the seven-time champions, who boast the likes of Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd in their attack, for this sold-out game.

“US has so much depth and experience, and we expect them to come at us so we are just going to have to withstand what they have to offer, especially in the first half, and then get ourselves set and maybe get a few counters in and show our athleticism,” Menzies noted.

With that said, Menzies and his assistants, Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price, will have a lot to process in terms of tactics and a possible starting team, as nippy striker Trudi Carter is currently nursing a knee injury.

Though not confirmed, Arnett Gardens midfielder Shanise Foster, who also arrived yesterday after sorting out visa issue which delayed her arrival, could be instantly thrown into the line of fire.

Foster, the lone local-based player in the squad, could join Marlo Sweatman and Chinyelu Asher in marshalling the midfield, behind a possible three-pronged attack including Deneisha Blackwood, Jody Brown and Khadija Shaw.

Sydney Schneider is expected to be between the sticks, shadowed by the usual back four of Captain Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Lauren Silver, and Dominique Bond-Flasza.

“We are still monitoring her [Trudi Carter], but [Shanise] Foster came in so that will give us some more depth and we think highly of her, so I think she will fit in well in this team. But we haven't gone over that as yet. We are going to check with the doctors to see how Carter is and then we start looking into the formation and all that,” Menzies shared.

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