Sports

U-20 Reggae Girlz depart for CFU qualifiers

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, July 17, 2017

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Jamaica enters the first round of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 Women's qualifying with expectations high of a dominant performance, as they depart the island for Bermuda today, via Miami.

The spirit of the team is high for more reasons than one, but particularly because majority of the 20-member squad is represented by players who brought the country CFU Under-17 Championship glory in Puerto Rico in 2015.

The same group of players, with the exception of a few, also went on to compete at the Under-17 CONCACAF round in Grenada last year.

And with only two overseas-based players in goalkeeper Milan Dewkinandan and defender Jadyn Matthews – both from Florida — new to the country's programme, the aim of topping Group B seems highly probable.

They will be aspiring to surpass the feat of the previous Under-20 team that made it to the CONCACAF Championships in Honduras in 2015 but bowed out at the group stage, finishing third on four points behind eventual runners-up Canada, and the hosts.

But some things are easier said than done, and Head Coach Xavier Gilbert is very much cognisant of that, as he believes the hosts, along with St Lucia and Curacao, are worthy opponents.

Jamaica will open their account against the host nation on Wednesday.

“The objective is to top the group. strategically, I think Bermuda placed us first which is why we designed the training programme like that, to ensure that we don't have any fatigue going into the first game. Normally the hosts would play last, (feature game) but they probably assume that the long flight will have some effect on us.

“So it is just about how we manage the girls when we get into Bermuda and what we do during that time to ensure that they are sharp and ready for the first game,” Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer.

The team assembled for a one-week, pre-tournament camp last week, where the sessions were focused on physical and tactical work, including a practice encounter against St George's College's Under-16 team on Thursday.

Though losing 1-7 to those boys, Gilbert pointed out that the game was used to identify and adjust the flaws within the set-up, as well as to zone in on the right combination of players.

“We did well for most of the game; it's a boys' team and they are a lot quicker and they had players who play Manning Cup, so it was a tough task for them. Nevertheless, they acquitted themselves well and I am pleased with what I saw, especially in the first half…we were very competitive and we managed to score first,” he noted.

The three group-stage winners shall advance to the final qualifying stage and join St Kitts and Nevis as the host of the final round. Haiti and Dominican Republic are hosts of the other two groups.

In the final qualifying phase, teams finishing first and second in the group will automatically qualify for the 2018 CONCACAF Women's Under-20 Championship.

Squad: Peterkaye Green (Los Perfectos), Tateyana Pitter (Waterhouse FC), Jessica Johnson (Waterhouse FC), Gabrielle Gayle (Unattached), Kevena Reid (G C Foster College), Sherice Clarke (Unattached), Jody Brown (St Ann Women's FC), Tarania Clarke (Waterhouse FC), Shashine Smith (Waterhouse FC), Jadyn Matthews (Orlando City), Alyssa Julien (Toronto Azurri Blizzard), Ebony Clarke (Richmond Girls Soccer), Emily Caza (GS United SC), Erin Mikalsen (Florida Kraze Krush), Giselle Washington (Concorde Fire), Khadian Wright-Brown (Unattached), Marlee Fray (Sunrise SC), Sydney Schneider (Match Fit Academy), Milan Dewkinandan (West Florida), Lyana Steele (Weston FC)

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