Sport

Reggae Girlz draw Australia, Brazil, Italy in Fifa World Cup

By Sherdon Cowan
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, December 09, 2018

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A smile on the face of Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz Head Coach Hue Menzies was a good indication that he was pleased with yesterday's draw for the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup in France.

The Reggae Girlz, the first Caribbean team to qualify for the showpiece event, were drawn in Group C alongside number six-ranked Australia, number 10-ranked Brazil, and Italy, ranked at number 16, making a return to the competition for the first time since 1999.

The draw, which was held at La Sine Musicale in Paris, France, yesterday, placed the 24 qualifying teams into six groups of four based on the Fifa/Coca-Cola Women's World rankings, which was released on Friday.

As such the Reggae Girlz, who made a double-digit leap from 64 to 53 — the country's highest-ever position on the world rankings — by virtue of their performance in the Concacaf Women's Championship in October, were drawn from pot four alongside South Africa, Chile and Scotland, who will also be making their debut at the world tournament next summer.

Menzies who, along with Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts and team manager Jean Nelson, was present at yesterday's draw, is looking forward to the June 7 to July 7 tournament.

Jamaica's campaign will begin on June 9 when they face Brazil at Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, France. They will then travel to Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims on June 14 for battle against Italy, before concluding the group phase on June 18 against top-ranked Australia in Grenoble.

“Wow, all the draws are tough as all 24 teams are tough, but we are excited to be on the same platform as all the teams, and I am sure it will be a grand experience for our country to open up against Brazil, a country that we have idolised as a nation.

“What an experience it will be for our players being on the same field with one of the best players in the world, Marta, so it is exciting time for our country and the young females in our country,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the draw.

“Australia and Italy have great tradition in the female game and so we expect good competition from them, particularly Italy, who just has such a great pride in defending. So we are really excited and can't wait to start the preparation.

“I will get with the staff and start to build a schedule for the next six months, as our mindset is to get the opportunity to play like teams that are in our group. So now that we have seen what the draw brought us, we will start to plan like competition during the next six months,” the tactician added.

Assistant Coach Andrew Price also weighed in on the draw as he continues to celebrate the team's big move up the rankings.

“I believe it is a massive achievement, for all the women have achieved this year. It is just reward to be ranked the highest the programme has ever been in history, and once we continue to remain competitive and focused then sky is the limit for these young ladies. The best is still to come,” Price noted.

“As coaches it shows what fixity of purpose and belief can do in facilitating the dreams and aspirations of committed young ladies. One thing is evident — with investment and exposure, progression can be achieved. We are not short of talent in this country, so we need to be steadfast and continue invest in the women's programme.

“More needs to be done and we are not satisfied. We are going to France not to just to say we were there, we want to be competitive and continue to improve and make waves,” Price reasoned.

Meanwhile, Concacaf's top brass, world number one and defending champions United States were drawn in Group F alongside Thailand, Chile and Sweden, while number five-ranked Canada will contest Group E with Cameroon, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Following the group stages, the top two teams will automatically progress to the Round of 16, where they will be joined by the four best third-placed teams. From there, teams will then progress to the quarter-final to battle for semi-final berths.

The final of the Women's World Cup is scheduled for July 7 at Parc Olympique Lyonnais.

Group A: France, Republic of Korea, Norway, Nigeria

Group B: Germany, China PR, Spain, South Africa

Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica

Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan

Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands

Group F: USA, Thailand, Chile, Sweden

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