Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship

Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship (5)

Jamaica’s U-20 Reggae Girlz secured a spot in the knockout round of the Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship after a 0-0 draw with Haiti on Wednesday.

The result meant that the team advanced from the four-team Group H in third place.  In the group’s other match, a high-scoring showdown between Guatemala and Cuba, it was the Guatemalans who prevailed 3-2 to top the zone.

In a match with very few clear-cut opportunities, it was the Jamaicans who were presented with the best opportunities to score.  None would have been clearer than Mia Mitchell missed chance from the penalty spot, which she skied in the 27-minute.  Despite being a player light after Theanna Burnett received a second yellow card in the 41st minute, Jamaican seemed the more likely team to score but never managed to take any of the other half-chances that presented themselves.

The Jamaicans have been drawn alongside Group F second-place team Panama, with the fixture set to take place on Saturday in San Cristobal.  In an all-Caribbean affair, Haiti will face Group F third-place team Guyana in Santo Domingo on the same day.

Jamaica Under-20 Reggae Girlz coach, Xavier Gilbert, insists the team’s ambition will be to win the group as they look to secure a spot in the CONCACAF Under-20 Women's Championship Round of 16, despite facing somewhat of a tricky situation.

Finding themselves third in a competitive Group H, the Jamaicans have targeted taking all three points against zone leaders Haiti when the teams meet on Wednesday. 

With the top three teams advancing to the knockout stages, it is the Haitians who are top on 4 points but only by goal difference over second-place Guatemala. Guatemala will play bottom of the group Cuba in the day's other match.  Ahead of the round, despite not securing their spot in the next round as yet, Gilbert backs Jamaica to move up the table.

 “Looking ahead to the Haiti game, we would want to see if we can secure qualification to the next round.  We also need to see if we can still win the group,” Gilbert said ahead of the match.

“Our objective is to win the game, maximise our points and see where we can go from there.”

The team will head into the match without experienced midfielder Peyton McNamara who was injured on Saturday.

Haiti and Guatemala confirmed their progression from Group B of the CONCACAF U-20 Women’s Championship after playing out a 1-1 draw, at the San Cristobal Pan-American Stadium, in the Dominican Republic on Monday.

The Guatemalans took the lead in the 21st minute through Celsa Sandoval before Haiti got their equalizer on the stroke of halftime through Rose-Alya Marcellus. Both teams got one red card each with Lesly Hernandez being dismissed for the Guatemalans and Withmilla Alcide seeing red for the Haitians.

With three teams advancing from each group and one match left in group play, Haiti and Guatemala both have four points to be first and second, while Jamaica are third on three points. Cuba sits last in the Group without a point.

The young Reggae Girlz will now go into their last match with Haiti knowing that a win, draw or a Cuban loss to Guatemala will be enough to send them through to the round of 16 stage. Both matches will be played on Wednesday.

Suriname, The Cayman Islands, Curacao, and Bermuda all automatically advanced to the round of 16 through the qualifying tournament, while the other 12 teams to advance alongside them will be determined by group play.

 

A profligate Jamaica got off to a poor start, losing 0-1 to Guatemala in the opening match in Group H to start the 2022 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal in the Dominican Republic on Saturday.

Jamaica had a penalty saved in the 67th minute, a microcosm of their poor play during the match in which the young Reggae Girlz spurned several chances to take the lead. Guatemala also had opportunities but was kept at bay by Reggae Girlz goalkeeper Liya Brooks, whose stellar work spared Jamaica blushes.

Guatemala found a breakthrough late when substitute Maria Contreras pounced on a loose ball in the area in the 90’ and found the back of the net with an excellent left-footed finish for the 1-0 win.

In the second game of the day in San Cristobal, 2020 CWU20 semifinalists Haiti edged Cuba 2-1.

Haiti enjoyed a 2-0 halftime lead thanks to scores from Valentina Ornis in the 31’ and Rose-Ayla Marcellus in the 41’.

But Cuba hung tough and made it a dramatic final 19 minutes when Yerly Palma pulled a goal back in the 71’ to make it 2-1.

Jamaica Under-20 Reggae Girlz assistant coach, Tashana Vincent, has called on the team's senior players to step up, ahead of what is expected to be a difficult Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship underway in the Dominican Republic.

The Jamaicans, who have been drawn in Group H, will kickstart their campaign with a match against Guatemala on Saturday.  By their own admission, the team has, however, had less than ideal preparation for the start of the tournament.

In total, heading into the competition, the unit will have gotten less than three training sessions as a full team, with no practice matches to speak of under their belt.  It's hardly a recipe for success, but in such a difficult scenario, Vincent expects the input and performances of the seniors to be critical.

“Players like Peyton McNamara and Nevillgail Able who have played at this level before, who have also had the privilege of being part of the senior program, will have to come up big for us in this tournament,” Vincent told TVJ Sports.

“I am sure that the players know the responsibility that they will have going into this tournament and how much the team will depend on their leadership to ensure that we secure one of the qualifying spots.”

The biennial Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship will qualify three teams to the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.  The Jamaicans have never qualified from the tournament, with their best finish being 4th place in 2006.

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