Let's hear it for the Girlz: Jamaica's Reggae Girlz hold mighty Brazil 0-0 to book historic Knockout spot

By August 02, 2023
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate. Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate.

In another breathtaking display of grit, stubborn determination and just pure heart, Lorne Donaldson’s Reggae Girlz once again rewrote their names in the annals of Jamaica’s and the world’s sporting history, in more ways than one.

Not only did the Jamaicans hold mighty Brazil to their first goalless stalemate in a group stage at the Fifa Women’s World Cup, but also secured a spot in the knockout stages for the first time in the tiny island's history, and they did so without conceding a goal.

Such statistics in what many will describe as a fairytale run – particularly when their first appearance at the 2019 showpiece in France is taken into consideration –is both emotional and exciting at the same time.

During that 2019 debut, the Reggae Girlz conceded 12 goals, losing all three games to Brazil, Italy and Australia. Now four years later, they held France to a goalless stalemate, defeated Panama and denied Brazil a spot in the Round of 16 for the first time since 1995.

The Reggae Girlz, who finished second on five points behind Group F winner France, who defeated Panama 6-3 in the other contest, will next face the winner of Group H, which is either Colombia or Germany, in Round of 16 action in Adelaide, next week.

Donaldson, who heaped praises on his team for their resilience in rising above challenges both on and off the field, said Jamaicans, both home and abroad, should be proud, as the achievement came a day after the country celebrated Emancipation Day and only a few days before celebrating its 61st year of Independence.

“This is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life, just to see these Girlz and see a country like Jamaica able to achieve this is just unbelievable. I thank the Girlz for doing this for Jamaica and the country should be proud,” Donaldson declared in a post-game interview.

“The resilience and the fight, we knew we were coming into a war, and we had to be ready, and we stood tall in the battle, and we won. We still have some more work to do but we will just enjoy tonight,” he added.

Meanwhile, goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer, put the team’s emotions into words.

“We are a team that goes through so much off the pitch no one else believes in us, the ones above us don’t believe in us but we believe in ourselves and as you can see from that performance today, we knew we could do it inside our group,” she said.

“It was tough to hold Brazil, but we proved it against France that we can do it, and it is not just one person, it is not just the defence but the entire team. Like I said, the ones above us don’t believe in us and they always put us through things that we don’t want to go through but that just gives us more fire in our veins to go out there and do well,” Spencer shared.  

With Marta starting the match for the first time in the group stage, Brazil maintained possession for most of the first half, but struggled to really test Spencer, much to the disappoint of the South Americans that dominated a crowd of just under 28,000 in the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

The Jamaicans, who seemingly thrive when their backs are against the wall, defended stoutly, as they absorbed pressure and answered all questions asked of them by the Brazilians.

Still, the Girlz did display some attacking intent even though they were unable to get anything on Brazil’s goal.

Brazil’s best chance of the game came in the 39th minute, when a delightful chip pass from Ary Borges found Tamires, who met it on the volley with the left-foot, but Spencer proved equal to it.

Brazil lifted the tempo in the second half, as they chased the goal needed to advance, but it was not to be.

A free kick from substitute Andressa and a header from Debinha in stoppage time represented Brazil’s closest chance of scoring the winning goal, as Jamaica’s organized defense stifled the South Americans throughout the game.

Teams: Rebecca Spencer, Chantelle Swaby, Allyson Swaby, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, Drew Spence, Atlanta Primus, Jody Brown (Solai Washington 85th), Vyan Sampson, Cheyna Matthews (Tiffany Cameron 46th), Khadija Shaw

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

Booked: Matthews (30th)

Brazil –Leticia, Antonia (Geyse 80th), Kathellen, Rafaelle, Luana (Duda Sampaio 80th), Tamires, Debinha, Marta (Andressa 80th), Adriana, Ary Borges (Bia Zaneratto 46th), Kerolin

Subs not used: Barbara, Camila, Ana Vitoria, Bruninha, Lauren, Monica, Angelina, Gabi Nunes

Booked:

Referee: Esther Staubli (SUI)

Assistant referees: Katrin Rafalski (GER); Susanne Kueng (SUI)

Fourth official: Vincentia Amedome (TOG)

Sherdon Cowan

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

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