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Despite a failed bid at an historic FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup qualification, Hugh Bradford is optimistic about staying on with the national programme, as he believes he has more to offer to Jamaica’s football development.

However, at the same time, the American-based coach is also hopeful that things will be done differently to better nurture, and, by extension, prepare the country’s young talents to perform in a competitive environment.

Bradford’s comments came, as he continues to assess the young Reggae Girlz performances in consecutive 0-4 losses to regional powerhouses Canada and United States, at the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship in Dominican Republic.

The Girlz are scheduled to close out their Group A campaign against Panama at Felix Sanchez Stadium in Santo Domingo on Tuesday at 2:00 pm.

“I hope to continue with the programme, but that will be up to the Jamaica Football Federation to decide. I also hope to see our country put things in place for our youngest players that will help to get them ready for this stage, both in Jamaica and abroad,” Bradford said.

“There is no doubt that we have a lot of talent. However, as a country, for us to play against the best, we have to constantly make changes to how we treat our football development to keep up with the world, but more so in Concacaf,” he added.

While disappointed that his young Reggae Girlz failed to keep the United States at bay on Sunday, Bradford lauded his team for putting in a much-improved performance, from a defensive perspective in particular, when compared to their opening defeat against Canada.

As such, the tactician is eyeing a similar of even better all-round execution against fellow strugglers Panama, as both teams, who are without a point or a goal, seek to salvage some pride from their failed campaigns.

“I am hoping the team will play another good game as they did against USA, we didn’t get on the scoresheet as we would have liked, but again, it all comes down to focus and how we prepare ourselves to take on the best,” the tactician noted.

 “As a team you have to be at your best for 90+ minutes, so their fitness level matters and that is an all-year thing. But I think the ladies should be able to put in a better showing against Panama and so we look forward to what should be another good game,” said Bradford.

Both United States, the reigning seven-time champions, and Canada, on six points each, will lock horns in the Group A top-of-the-table clash, at 5:00 pm.

The winner will take on Group B runners-up Costa Rica, while the loser will have to contend with Mexico in Friday’s semi-finals.

The two finalists and third-place team will qualify for next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Jamaica’s wait to qualify for a FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup has been prolonged, as the young Reggae Girlz suffered a second-consecutive 0-4 defeat, this time at the hands of United States, at the Concacaf Under-20 Championships in Dominican Republic on Sunday.

A hat-trick from Madeline Dahlien (10th, 47th and 79th) and one from Tessa Dellarose (49th) saw the reigning seven-time champions to victory which secured them a semi-final berth along with Canada, who earlier registered a 5-0 win over Panama.

Both United States and Canada, are on six points each and will decide Group A winners in a top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday, while the Jamaicans and Panamanians are to meet in a contest of academic interest on the same day.

While it was a much-improved showing from the young Reggae Girlz in part, when compared to their 0-4 opening loss to Canada, they simply lacked the pedigree of their United States counterparts.

The Hugh Bradford-coached Girlz showed more heart defensively and did manage to show some semblance of individual flair when in possession, but again offered very little on the attacking front.

It took only 10 minutes for US to break the deadlock when Dahlien breached the backline and fired past Liya Brooks.

They continued to apply consistent pressure and found a few more openings but faulty shooting proved their undoing as they failed to hit the target.

That coupled with the fact that the young Reggae Girlz were more organized at the back, resulted in the score remaining 1-0 at the break.

However, the Girlz first half accomplishments quickly went out like a candle in the wind, as the US attackers went straight to work on the resumption. A weighted cross from Onyeka Gamero was expertly met by Dahlien beating Brooks to her left, two minutes in.

And before the Girlz could regroup, they found themselves further behind when Dellarose’s delightful left-footed strike from about 20-yards out, gave Brooks no chance at a save.

Brooks was better positioned to deny substitute Jill Flammia’s effort from just outside the 18-yard box in the 54th minute, as she got down well to her right to parry onto the upright.

But Dahlien eventually secured her third and a fourth for the US with another easy finish beyond Brooks.

US, Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico are set to contest the semi-finals.

The two finalists and third-place team will qualify for next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Despite facing an uphill task, Jamaica’s Head coach Hugh Bradford is optimistic that his young Reggae Girlz will produce an improved performance against reigning seven-time champions United States in their second Group A contest at the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship in Dominican Republic on Sunday.

The encounter to take place at the Felix Sanchez Stadium in Santo Domingo, is scheduled for 5:00 pm Jamaica time, after the Canada versus Panama curtain-raiser at 2:00 pm.

After going down 0-4 to Canada in Friday’s opener, the young Reggae Girlz are now caught in a must-win situation in order to keep hopes of securing an historic FIFA Women’s Under-20 World Cup berth alive and Bradford is backing his charges to put their best foot forward on this occasion.

United States, who hammered Panama 6-0 in their opening contest, currently head the standings on three points, same as Canada, but with a better goal difference.

“Yes, it is a difficult task but we are going to try and play our game and not worry about what the opponents will do. I know we have a lot of potential in our team and so I expect the players to go out and give off their best,” Bradford said.

Reflecting on the team’s performance against Canada, the US-based coach pointed out that the players failed to execute as instructed and, as such, were outclassed in all departments and beaten by goals from Anabelle Chukwu (39th and 45th), Olivia Smith (56th) and substitute Renee Watson (90+4).

“I thought we could have been better, but we weren’t entirely bad. We used a lot of energy on the defensive side, didn’t press the ball enough and so we were unable to get anything out of the game,” Bradford reasoned.

“But we have to just leave that game behind us and focus on the next game. We know our performance needed to be better as a team and like I said, I expect the ladies to show some improvements here. Everybody is fine, we had our team meeting and discussed what changes needs to take place as we look ahead,” he added.

Should the Girlz pull off an unlikely upset, it would put them in a good position to secure on of two spots from the group to the knockout stage, as they are set to close against Panama on May 30, while the United States and Canada will have each other to contend with.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica and Mexico, have all but secured the two positions from Group B, with two wins each.

The two finalists and third-place team will represent the confederation at next year’s Under-20 World Cup.

Following Wednesday night's washout of the Group A matches in the final round of the Concacaf Women U20 Championships qualifiers, Jamaica will now play their opening match against Canada on May 26.

They will then play the USA on May 28 with their final group match against Panama set for May 30.

Adverse weather conditions resulted in water-logged fields in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night causing the games to be postponed.

 

The other Group A fixture between the United States and Panama was also called off.

 

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