Sports

Win big or go home

Girlz hunt goals in last-ditch effort to extend World Cup stay

SHERDON COWAN
AT THE 2019 FIFA
WOMEN'S WORLD CUP FINALS
In France

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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GRENOBLE, France — Score goals.

The objective is as simple as that for Jamaica's Reggae Girlz, who go into today's final Group C game against Australia knowing that anything but an handsome victory will confirm their exit from the ongoing Fifa Women's World Cup here.

Though their chances of progressing to the round of 16 in their debut campaign are slim, the Girlz's coach remains optimistic that they can extend their debut campaign at the global showpiece or at least end on a high at Stade des Alpes.

The game is scheduled for 9:00 pm (2:00 pm Jamaica time).

Currently at the foot of the standings without a point and a minus eight goal difference, the Girlz will have to defeat the third-placed Australia (on three points) by at least five clear goals, and hope that group leaders Italy on six points, better second-placed Brazil, also on three points.

The possibility of those results playing out would see the Reggae Girlz in the running to advance as group runners-up or at least one of the four best third-placed finishers.

Having graced the pitch for their final one-hour session at Stade Eugene Thenard yesterday, Head Coach Hue Menzies and his assistants Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price took the Girlz through what they believe will be a crucial component in today's contest — finishing.

In their two previous contests against Brazil and Italy, the Reggae Girlz had their fair share of chances and should have scored a goal or two, but failed to capitalise and eventually lost 0-3 and 0-5, respectively.

“We struggled a little bit in the final third but we have been working on that and today's (yesterday's) session was a lot of final third stuff, so hopefully we can redeem ourselves a little bit, so it's something that we are definitely aware of.

“We have given up eight goals so everything is just box play, making sure that we dominate both boxes. So that is the immediate approach we are taking; we have a lot of respect for Australia, but we don't fear them. So our immediate reaction is, take care of the boxes and then see what the game gives us,” Menzies reasoned.

“We want to qualify; that is what we are here for; it's a mathematical issue that we have to get through and we know about some of the groups. But I just go into games thinking that we need to get results, especially if we play the way we are capable of playing, we should be able to get some results here, so I'm going in to win the game. That's why we are here,” he reiterated.

With Australia conceding three goals in their warm-up games and two each to Italy and Brazil here at the World Cup, Menzies wants to ensure that the Matildas sense the Reggae Girlz's goal threat.

Australia are on an incredible high off the back of their comeback 3-2 victory over Brazil, but the 53rd ranked Jamaicans, who having nothing to lose, are primed for their best performance yet, which should make it a tough day for the number six-ranked team.

“We feel like our front line should be doing better because we have talent. We have some pride in ourselves and I think we beat up ourselves more so than what people think because we know we can do even better, so we want to get some results out of this...” Menzies noted.

“We are a very resilient group; we just have to go out there and perform the way we are capable of performing, so we have put our best foot forward in being here but we are not satisfied with our performance and hopefully we can get a result tomorrow (today),” he added.

Though yet to officially decide on an 11, Menzies once again pointed to changes within the starting line-up, which could include Nicole McClure replacing Sydney Schneider in goal.

The back four could remain as it was from the Italy game, with captain Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood and Sashana Campbell securing their spots.

Another change could possibly come in the middle of the park where Toriana Patterson joins Chantelle Swaby in the holding midfield position, while Havana Solaun could be slotted into a more attacking position behind the three-prong attack of Khadija Shaw, Cheyna Matthews and Mireya Grey.

“We have always been making changes. We come here to play at least four or five games so we have always prepared ourselves to be able to deal with those issues. So tomorrow (today) we are probably going to make some changes to the line-up; we brought 23 players and we want to use most of that roster and make adjustments to make sure we play within our strengths,” the tactician ended.


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