Reggae Girlz skipper Shaw puts positive spin on red card suspension, backs team to get job done against Panama

By July 25, 2023
Reggae Girlz captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw Reggae Girlz captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw

While admitting to some disappointment that she was sent off in their opening Fifa Women's World Cup game against France, Reggae Girlz captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw says she has nothing to be ashamed of, as she did what was required to assure her team the best possible result.

In fact, Shaw's general mindset and outlook is one of utmost positivity, especially given the fact that the Girlz remained composed and resolute to earn their first ever World Cup point, following her ejection at Sydney Football Stadium.

The towering striker, who is rated among the best in the world at present, was sent off in time added in the goalless stalemate with fifth-ranked France, after she was shown a second yellow card for an unnecessary sliding challenge on Wendie Renard. She had early picked up a 37th-minute caution.

Though video replay showed that there was minimal contact, the rules of the game are such that VAR could not have intervened unless it was a straight red card. Still, it mattered little as an appeal by Head coach Lorne Donaldson was dismissed by Fifa and her suspension stands.

"Every time I go out on the pitch, I always give my 100 percent and try to help the team and be the leader that I know I can be. So, at the end of the day, my ultimate goal is more than just to score goals, I always aim to help the team defensively as well and stuff like that.

"So, it's a bit difficult for me, my first red card but looking back at the game, I am taking the positives from it which is my overall performance and of course, our first point at the World Cup," Shaw said.

"Physically I am pretty banged up, it was a very physical game and I strive off that so I know that my overall effort is something that I can feel proud of, and I walked off the pitch, not in the best way, but I walked off knowing that I did my best. So yes, I've looked back at it but only taking positives from it," she added.

Reflecting on the performance, Shaw pointed out that the well-experienced French outfit, a quarterfinalist from 2019 and one of the favourites for this ongoing showpiece, was always expected to prove a handful. On that note, she credits her teammates for their grit and determination in executing the game plan.

"As a team, we spoke about the game, we had a while to prepare for the game and we knew it wasn't going to be an easy game. We knew defensively we had to be solid and attacking wise, we had to make the right decisions when we are on the ball, so I think overall our performance was good. 

"We dug deep as a team, we had some difficult moments when France had a lot of corners and transitional moments, but we fed off each other in different aspects and actions of the game and I think ultimately the result speak for itself,” the Manchester City stalwart noted.

Despite her suspension from the upcoming game against 52nd-ranked Panama, a team she has always had success against dating back to the historic qualification in 2018, Shaw, 26, has every confidence in her team to once again deliver accordingly.

"Outsiders looking in can see our team, we are always together, we are one family and like I said, we feed of each other’s energy. So, when you have that chemistry and that sort of relationship with your teammates, it means if one of the ladies are out of position and another cover for her, they are going to do that and we have always been that way," Shaw reasoned.

"We have always believed in ourselves and our capabilities and preparation wise, it wasn't the best, but we have to focus on what we can control and that is to give of our best on the pitch and hopefully it will always be good enough," the Spanish Town native said.

The 43rd-ranked Girlz are currently third in Group F on a point, same as France, both behind leaders Brazil on three points, while Panama is pointless.

A win, particularly by a handsome scoreline in Saturday's encounter at Perth Rectangular Stadium, would put the Girlz in a good position to achieve their main objective –to progress beyond the group stages.

They are scheduled to close group play against Brazil on August 2.

"I think that (upcoming game) is going to be a big challenge for us, we have played Panama multiple times before, so we know what they have to offer. But I think ultimately, we have to focus on ourselves go out there build from the result that we got against France, keep our confidence high and hopefully at the end of the day we can get the job done," Shaw ended.

 

Sherdon Cowan

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

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