The day Jamaica created history and qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the axis of the women’s game in CONCACAF shifted in a seismic way.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz’s qualification to France 2019 signified in part an unprecedented growth and development leap for the Caribbean.

Importantly, too, the fairytale success story was of monumental historical proportion, as the island became the first from the region to be catapulted into the stratosphere of the global game and its greatest stage, the World Cup.

On October 17, 2018, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jamaica achieved the unthinkable.

In the third-place match, the Girlz defeated Panama in an epic match, which ended 2-2 after regulation and extra time. And the two, with the scent of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in scope, had to be separated by the dreaded penalties. As it turned out, Jamaica triumphed 4-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

On that magical journey, was assistant coach Andrew Price and he recalled the momentous occasion as if it happened yesterday.

“The emotions were like a roller-coaster on the bench in that final qualifying game [against Panama]. We took the lead on two occasions and lost it twice. We deliberately saved our changes late in the game to ensure that we would have been prepared for extra time.

“But the masterstroke was when we decided to replace goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with Nicole McClure. We had practised penalties the day before and Nicole was amazing in goal, so when we saw the clock winding down, it was important that we put her on the pitch before time expired,” said Price.

As part of a technical team led by Head Coach Hue Menzies, the assistant coach revelled in the tactical astuteness of the coaches, for he thought the off-the-field decisions had a positive impact on the outcome of the match.

“In practising the penalty kicks, we made the players make the long walk from half-line to the penalty box to take each kick, so for that match day the players would be prepared for the scenario, and everything worked to perfection. As you know, Nicole saved two penalties and we scored all our penalties,” Price re-collected.       

The experienced tactician said there was self-belief in the camp that the World Cup dream was reachable as the team went through the layers of qualification.

“The confidence and self-belief came after the first round of the Caribbean World Cup Qualifying held in Haiti. It was a difficult tournament in terms of the conditions and environment that the young ladies had to face.

“The real test was the final game of the round, between ourselves and the host Haiti, as we battled for the one qualifying spot. We went into the game on similar points, but we had a superior goal difference of two goals. All we needed was to draw to advance. In front of a partisan and sometimes hostile crowd of 15,000 Haitian supporters, we trailed 2-0 in the first half.

“But we showed our real strength by pulling a goal back before halftime. During the halftime talk, we told the Girlz to relax and play their normal game. They went out, and in a stirring performance, silenced the crowd with the equalizing goal. For the remainder of the match, we fought tooth and nail to ensure we advanced to the next round,” Price reminisced.

As the qualifying journey took its twists and turns, the Girlz saw themselves more than just competitors but real contenders for a spot at France 2019.

“With each passing round of the qualification, the confidence of the Girlz grew. They believed they were on a mission to accomplish something great. They grew into a closely-knit family -- all for one and one for all. They were willing to be patient and trust the process, and they did so one game at a time. They took obstacles as inspiration to work that much harder,” said Price.

He said when the final whistle went in the decisive match against Panama, there was a feeling of euphoria that swept through the team and all the support staff.

“We were just overcome with joy. The immediate reaction was to scream, ‘We did it’. We were so elated. We jumped and hugged each other. Then our next reaction was to get on the pitch and celebrate with the Girlz. The moment was surreal. It was as if time stopped for the moment,” Price said.

Jamaica’s success, said Price, was a signature moment for the entire Caribbean, a rallying cry that anything is possible if one dares to dream.

“Most definitely it was a triumph for the entire Caribbean. No different from when Haiti qualified for their first Men's World Cup in 1974. It inspired nations like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago that it could be done. Similarly, our historic qualification will inspire other Caribbean countries. The gap is closing between the world powers in football and the others, as a global village has made the catching up achievable,” he reasoned.

“Previously in Concacaf, the automatic teams would be the USA, Canada and Mexico. But now you have Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama, Haiti, Trinidad and others knocking at the door. This comes as a result of FIFA and Concacaf assisting significantly in the development of the Women's game,” Price added.

In France, the Girlz lost all their Group C matches, but even in defeat against significantly stronger opponents, the learning experience was priceless.

“From the draw, we were quite aware we were in the ‘Group of Death’, with top-ranked teams such as Brazil, Australia and Italy. It was always going to be difficult against these teams. But we made up our minds that we were going to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves. The experience we gained was all a part of the learning curve. It is the experience you can only get by playing against the best,” Price noted.

Reggae Girlz team manager Jean Nelson has died after a short illness, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) announced on Sunday. Nelson, who was the first official president of the Jamaica Women’s Football Association passed away on Saturday.

Goals from Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Horan, Margaret Purce and Alex Morgan powered the world champions, the USA, to a 4-0 drubbing of Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz at the BBVA Stadium in Houston on Sunday night.

The result meant that Jamaica leaves the USWNT Summer Series with a win and a loss having defeated Nigeria 1-0 in their opening match last Thursday night.

The USA got off to a fast start and scored 24 seconds after the first whistle when a cross to the left of Jamaica’s 18-yard box found Lloyd who fired into the Jamaican goal from close range.

The USA were on the board again six minutes later when Christen Press, on a run into the box from the left, was brought down by Konya Plumber. Horan converted easily sending Jamaican keeper Sydney Schneider, the wrong way.

Purce added the USA’s third in the 22nd minute when she ghosted in behind the Jamaican defence to receive a cross slotting in unchallenged past the advancing goalkeeper.

Jamaica produced a better performance in the second half partly due to the USA taking their foot off the gas and giving the Jamaicans more room to play.

However, Morgan scored a header in the 90th minute to complete the lopsided victory.

 

 

A 23-member Reggae Girlz squad assemble in the United States tomorrow without inspirational captain Khadijah Shaw for two upcoming international friendly games as part of the 2021 Women's National Team Summer Series hosted by the US Soccer.

The local delegation from Jamaica will depart on Thursday, June 3 out of Montego Bay at 2:20 pm.

The squad will have a camp in Houston from June 4-7 after which it will relocate to the host hotel.

Jamaica will play number 38 ranked team Nigeria on June 10 and World champions the USA on June 13. Both games will be played at the BBVA stadium in Houston, Texas. The games will be the first for the Jamaican team since they participated in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers in February 2020 and they will do so without their prolific striker Shaw.

Jamaica's number-nine, the leading scorer for Bordeaux in the Division 1 Féminine, the highest division of women's football in France, has reportedly asked for time to recover from what was an intense season in which the team fought successfully for a Champions League spot.

Shaw was the joint-leading scorer, alongside PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto, with 21 goals for Bordeaux, which finished third in the division.

Meanwhile, five new players have been named to the squad including Rebecca Spencer of Tottenham Hotspur, Drew Spence of Chelsea, and Shania Hayles of Aston Villa as well as Mikayla Dayes of the University of Maryland and Satara of FC Austin Elite.

They will join 14 veterans who represented Jamaica at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

According to the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), once the teams arrive in Houston both for training camp as well as the tournament, they will operate under a highly controlled environment that will include testing on arrival for the camp and testing at the host hotel.

The staging of the official training and matches will fall under the comprehensive US Soccer Return to Play Protocols and Guidelines and in accordance with CONCACAF Return to Play Protocols. The JFF has also developed protocols for the training camp in keeping with these guidelines.

The full squad comprises Sydney Schnieder (Washington Spirit FC USA), Rebecca Spencer (Tottenham Hotspurs FC), Chantelle Swaby (Glasgow Rangers) Konya Plummer (Orlando Pride), Allyson Swaby (AS Roma), Deneisha Blackwood (Houston Dash), Havana Solaun (Carolina Courage), Chinyelu Asher (Washington Spirit FC), Olufolasade Adamamouken (University of Southern California), Drew Spence (Chelsea FC), Peyton McNamara (Ohio State University), Sashana Campbell (Petah Tikva), Tiernny Wiltshire (Maccabi Emek Hefer), Jody Brown (Florida State University), Shania Hayles (Aston Villa WFC), Gabrielle Gayle (South Alabama), Kayla McCoy (Training with Glasgow Rangers), Vyan Sampson (Charlton FC), Cheyna Matthews (Racing Louisville), Yazmeen Jamieson (Unattached) Tiffany Cameron (Ferencvaros), Mikayla Dayes (University Of Maryland), and Satara Murray (FC Austin Elite).

The pre-tournament camp which is mainly financed by the JFF has received support from the Bob Marley Foundation, the Reggae Girlz Foundation, Cool Runnings based in Houston, Arm Wave and Wisynco with its Wata brand.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz will play two international friendlies against Nigeria and the United States in June as the team begins preparations for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers that are scheduled to begin in November 2021.

 Jamaica Reggae Girl Dominique Bond-Flasza has inked a deal with Icelandic women’s top division club Tindastóli.

The 24-year-old right-back who last played in Poland is expected to join up with her new team this summer.  Tindastóll won the Lengjudeild, which is the country’s second division, last summer and will play in the top division for the first time.  As such the Jamaican has been brought in as part of reinforcements.  The Reggae Girl, who has a Polish father and Jamaican mother, will bring plenty of experience to the position.

Bond-Flasza played with PSV Eindhoven from 2018 to 2020 and also has 17 caps for her national team Jamaica.  It was Bond-Flasza scoring from the penalty spot that secured the national team a place at the 2019 World Cup. She then played one of the team's three World Cup games in France.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.