Massive: Reggae Girlz steal historic World Cup point off France in 0-0 stalemate

By July 23, 2023
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate after holding France to a 0-0 stalemate in their opening Fifa Women's World Cup Group F contest at Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday. Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate after holding France to a 0-0 stalemate in their opening Fifa Women's World Cup Group F contest at Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday. lmtonline

After three defeats on their historic Fifa Women’s World Cup debut in France in 2019, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz dreamt of picking up their first ever point at the global showpiece on this occasion, and that they did.

The 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz fought gallantly to hold overwhelming favourites and fifth-ranked France to a goalless stalemate, much to the delight of the over 39,000 spectators inside the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.

France, a quarterfinalist in 2019, has never been involved in a goalless draw and little did they expect that it would have come against the Jamaicans, who lost captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw in the latter stages of the high intensity encounter, as she was sent off in time added on.

Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson praised his team for their heroic display, particularly goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.

“She has been training for this, she hardly took a break after her club season, she just wanted to get right back into it. I saw her efforts in Jamaica, and I questioned whether she is doing too much, but she said no coach, I am ready, and she was just fantastic,” Donaldson said of the Tottenham Hotspur shot stopper.

With their first point in the bag, Donaldson declared intentions for the remainder of the tournament, with Concacaf rivals Panama, next in their line of sight.

“We came here believing we could get something out of the game, it was a fantastic French team, but we were determined to play hard, and the ladies gave it everything.

“This is the number one result we would have had in our history on this stage male or female, so now we have to keep getting points, it three games we just have to keep getting points and try to get ourselves in a good position to advance from the group,” he added.

It was always expected to be a dogfight given the Jamaicans intentions, as the Les Bleues entered the contest with six wins from their last eight outings, including wins over Norway, Denmark and Ireland earlier this month. However, the Reggae Girlz again displayed their ability to turn up when it matters most.

Though France was always the dominant force in the high-intensity and physical battle, the Jamaicans stood up strong and had their chances from set pieces, the best of which was when Shaw’s stinging free kick from about 25 yards out was parried by Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in goal for France.

At the other end, Kadidiatou Diani, forced a save from Jamaica’s goalkeeper Spencer and later saw another effort deflected wide to end the first half.

France maintained the momentum on the resumption, but the Jamaicans had a few good breaks in patches, none of which amounted to any real goal scoring chance.

In fact, there best chance of the half came in the 65th minute when Player of the game, Deneisha Blackwood’s weighted cross in the 18-yard box was headed down by Cheyna Matthews, but the effort lacked enough pace to beat Peyraud-Magnin.

France’s first effort on target in the second half came in the 76th when Eugenie Le Sommer squeezed a right-footed effort off while under pressure from Chantelle Swaby, but it was easily gathered by Spencer, who was well positioned at her near post.

After consistently probing, the French almost got the much sought after breakthrough in the 90th when substitute Vicko Becho floated in a cross that was headed on towards goal by Diani, but the late effort came back off the bar, leaving one of the tournament favorites to settle for a point.

Teams: Jamaica –Rebecca Spencer, Chantelle Swaby, Allyson Swaby, Vyan Sampson, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, Jody Brown, Atlanta Primus (Havana Solaun 70th), Drew Spence, Cheyna Matthews (Solai Washington 70th), Khadija Shaw

Subs not used: Liya Brooks, Sydney Schneider, Konya Plummer, Tiffany Cameron, Trudi Carter, Peyton McNamara, Kameron Simmonds, Kalyssa Van Zanten, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Kayla McKenna

Booked: Primus (24th), Shaw (37th, 90+1 (red)

France: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Maelle Lakrar, Estelle Cascarino, Wendie Renard, Sakina Karchaoui, Sandie Toletti, Grace Geyoro, Amel Majri (Vicko Becho 66th), Kadidiatou Diani, Eugenie Le Sommer, Clara Mateo (Kenza Dali 66th)

Subs not used: Solene Durand, Constance Picaud, Laurina Fazer, Elisa De Almeida, Selma Bacha, Aissatou Tounkara, Lea Le Garrec, Viviane Asseyi, Naomie Feller, Eve Perisset

Booked: Mateo (14th)

Referee: Maria Carvajal (Chile)

Assistant referees: Leslie Vasquez (Chile); Loreto Toloza (Chile)

Fourth official: Laura Fortunato (Argentina)

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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