Donaldson: we have to now go to Canada and change our fortunes

By September 23, 2023
Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson with players Rebecca Spencer (left) and Deneisha Blackwood. Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson with players Rebecca Spencer (left) and Deneisha Blackwood.

It was another case of could have and should have for Lorne Donaldson and his senior Reggae Girlz as they were left ruing the substandard performance in a 0-2 defeat to Canada, a blow to their Olympic Games qualification hopes.

A positive start in which they kept Canada at bay gave the Reggae Girlz and the moderate spectator turnout at the National Stadium hope that they could have pulled off a big win.

But when it mattered most, they lacked accuracy in the final third, and that, coupled with amateurish defending at times, resulted in Nichelle Prince (18th) and the menacing Adriana Leon (90+3), putting Canada in the driver’s seat to secure the coveted spot to next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

While the Bev Priestman-coached reigning Olympic champions will be confident heading into Tuesday's second leg, to be played before a sold-out crowd at BMO Field in Toronto, Donaldson and his team will have to pick up the pieces and get their offensive and defensive shape right in their bid to achieve an improbable win in hostile environment.

“Canada is a team that played like 100 games together. We are a team that is coming together, and we are still searching for some combinations that we think can work. Scoring goals is very difficult. I mean, we haven’t played anybody who is a slouch, so we have to get games that are winnable games for us that we can start building and building.

“But it doesn’t come easy when you play teams like Canada, France, and Brazil among others, but hopefully we can find a way to get through this situation and start scoring some more goals,” Donaldson said in his post-game press conference.

Reflecting on the performance, Donaldson pointed out that he had nothing to be satisfied with, especially in a loss where the team’s execution fell below expectations.

The Girlz throughout the contest, had some half chances fall to Cheyna Matthews, Jody Brown, Tiffany Cameron and Konya Plummer, in the latter stages. From a defensive perspective, the score could have been much wider in Canada’s favour had it not been for some excellent work from goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.

“We had a couple of chances, and we didn’t finish them. Canada got their chance, and they finished it. For the first 50 to 60 minutes they [Canadians] were better than us moving the ball around and they did some stuff that really caught us off guard tactically. We made the adjustments but chasing a one-goal lead a lot of time you then gave up another one and that’s what happened,” Donaldson reasoned.

“There’s not a lot of satisfaction when you lose games. We weren’t as good as we should be. Maybe for first 10 or 15 minutes we got two chances that we should have done something better with.

“Canada had one and they finished it and so right there it could have been a big difference. Chasing the game is very difficult at times when you play good teams. Canada are the defending champions and I think we had forgotten that," he added.

With the situation being as it is now, Donaldson like many Reggae Girlz supporters at home and abroad, hope it will serve as added motivation for the players. 

Being more committed and focused, the tactician believes will lead to lead to a better second-leg performance, especially as they now have a very specific aim which is to not just win but win by two or more clear goals, if they are to achieve another historic feat of being the first Caribbean team to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games.

“I think everybody should be okay and ready to go because we have to now go to Canada and change our fortunes and make something happen differently,” Donaldson declared.

Should the Girlz fail to overturn the deficit, they will next be in action against Panama and Guatemala where victories would secure their berth in next year's Concacaf Women's Gold Cup.

Sherdon Cowan

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

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