Girlz seek positive result in crucial tie against Panama

By November 29, 2023
Jamaica and Panama in action recently. Jamaica and Panama in action recently. Concacaf

Interim Reggae Girlz Head Coach Xavier Gilbert is well aware of the need for his players not only maintain their focus, but also to execute efficiently and consistently for the next over 180-plus minutes, if they are to achieve the desired results in two must-win Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures.

The first will be against a gritty Panama outfit that will be riding high on the fact that they defeated the Jamaicans 2-1 in their first meeting and, more importantly, hold pole position in Group B on six points, which means they only need a point at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 7:00pm.

For Gilbert and his Girlz, who sit at the foot of the three-team table on a point, the objective is pretty straightforward –win and they are into the group stages of next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

But the tactician is well aware that it is much easier said than done and, as such, is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of taking three points at home, before visiting second-placed Guatemala (four points) away, on Sunday.

“We had three good sessions, and things went well, one player joined us let, but apart from that, all the players have settled in well. They know what is at stake, and you can tell by the mood in the camp that they are ready to give it their best shot,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“They have responded well to our request in terms of adjustment to the system of play, which is good, so what we did, was use the final session (on Tuesday) to tighten up on a few things and areas in which believe we need to strengthen. So, I am optimistic that once they execute how we want them to, we will come out with a positive result,” he added.

Should the Reggae Girlz defeat Panama, it would mean all three teams in the group, could take the top spot, and the outcome would rely on Sunday’s clash between Guatemala and the Jamaicans.

While finishing tops is the priority, the second-placed team would also have a second shot at Gold Cup qualification, as they would enter the preliminary phase of the tournament to oppose to group winners from League’s B and C.

That means, the Girlz could draw with Panama and then beat Guatemala to book the runner-up spot. But, that is no comfort to Gilbert, who is hoping to get the job done the right way.

“The game was a couple of weeks ago. This is a different situation and different circumstances. There is some unrest in their country, I am not sure if that has affected them mentally on this occasion, but we just have to be on our A game,” Gilbert said as he reflected on their away loss to Panama.

“We have to be better than what we were in the last game, and I am sure Panama is also looking to do better, so it's going to be extremely tough for us. Obviously, we've looked at a few things that we're looking to implement as we look to impose more of our will on the game,” he noted.

Gilbert, who is still without his World Cup players due to a prolonged standoff with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), is making do with a squad that boasts more youth than experience –2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman being the experience.

Still, the likes of Ricshya Walker, Melissa Johnson and Zoe Vidaurre, who all scored in the last window, are very much capable of doing more damage.

Panama will turn to their core group of playmakers in Riley Tanner, Marta Cox and Lineth Cedeno to get the job done, and Gilbert is very much wary of that and is aiming to nullify the trio.

“We are still working to finalize the best 11, so far, we are close to it, but there are still some other pieces to put in place. But the overall expectation heading into the game is to make sure that we get something out of it, which is our objective, and then we will see how it goes,” Gilbert ended.

Sherdon Cowan

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

Related items

  • Haynes high on confidence as young Soca Warriors ready to kick off U-20 Champs against St Vincent and the Grenadines Haynes high on confidence as young Soca Warriors ready to kick off U-20 Champs against St Vincent and the Grenadines

    Trinidad and Tobago Head coach Brian Haynes is exuding confidence that his young Soca Warriors should open their Concacaf under-20 Championship qualifiers account with victory over St Vincent and the Grenadines at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Friday.

    The young Soca Warriors, which recently wrapped up their preparation phase, now has the much-anticipated opportunity to impress both their coach and fans on home soil. They lock horns with St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Group D feature game at 6:00pm, after group favourites Canada meet Dominica in the 3:00pm curtain-raiser.

    With only the group winner to progress to the Championship round where they will join the confederation's top-six ranked teams, United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Dominican Republic, Haynes is well aware that his team has no room for mistakes throughout the campaign.

    "We are preparing for the first game. That is it. Nothing means anything unless we play that first game and do what we have to do to win that game," Haynes told T&T Football Association (TTFA) media.

    "No disrespect to St Vincent or whoever we are going to play, but that is our focus – winning that first game," he added.

    After their opening game against St Vincent and the Grenadines, the young Soca Warriors play Dominica on Sunday, before ending the group assignment against Canada on February 27. All games will be played at the Mucurapo venue.

    Haynes, who included seven overseas-based players in his 21-member squad, admitted to knowing little about their opponents.

    "(We have not been able to get much information on other teams), which is fine. It is really quiet out there. It made me more determined to prepare my team the way we have to play, the tactician shared.

    With 11 of the players being those that represented the twin island republic at last year's Concacaf under-17 championship, there is some cohesion and intensity in Haynes's side, which he believes the overseas-based players have strengthened. The overseas-based players are goalkeeper Ailan Panton, striker Larry Noel, attacking midfielder Derrel Garcia and English-born flanker Rio Cardines, a Crystal Palace youth player.

    "The level of professionalism is one thing, and the level of play is another thing. The body of work these guys bring to the group is awesome," Haynes said.

    "They are not here to be casual. They are here working hard and giving their best. What it has done is lift the level of all the players," he noted.

    Haynes promised possession-oriented football with a purpose, as he underlined the significance of keeping clean sheets in the qualifiers, especially given the quality of his defensive group.

    "(The fans) are going to meet a bunch of players who are very hard-working. Second of all, they are going to meet a bunch of players who play for each other. Thirdly and most importantly, (the fans will see) a team that wants to win and entertain T&T," Haynes ended.

  • Jamaica’s football legends to be honoured at 2024 All-Star Football Tournament Jamaica’s football legends to be honoured at 2024 All-Star Football Tournament

     

    Former national football players Allan ‘Skill’ Cole and Walter ‘Blacka Pearl’ Boyd will be honoured at the inaugural staging of the 2024 All Star Football Tournament, set for Sunday, February 25, 2024 at the Constant Spring Football Field in St. Andrew.

    The winners of the two playoffs will receive trophies named in honour of Cole and Boyd, who represented Jamaica at the highest level on the national and international arena. 

    Both Cole and Boyd will be on-hand to present the trophies to the winning teams. The respective trophies will remain with the team coaches for one year.

    Competition Director Haron Martin said the training sessions have been going well and the players are in high spirits as they look forward to Sunday’s games.

    “The players are excited about the tournament. They are very focused and have been preparing well to represent their teams and showcase their talent,” Martin said.

    “We are also upbeat about the tournament, and we anticipate that the players will get the kind of exposure that they deserve,” he added.

    An All-Prep team will square off against an All-Primary team; while at the Under14 level; the teams will consist of schools north grouped and south grouped of Kingston combined together. They will compete against each other for trophy bragging rights.

    According to Tournament Director, Leighton Davis, the competition will showcase the best youth talents that will prove to be an exciting and entertaining showpiece for the spectators.

    “This tournament is to highlight and reward players who have done well throughout the season. These types of games will help players develop and improve because they are playing against the best of the best,” Davis said.

    Main sponsor for the event is Project 2 Project Consultancy; with MDS Limited, the hydration sponsor and 876 Stream the social media sponsor, Blacktie Images and Insight Studios.

    Gates open at 1:00pm with games being played 2:30pm and 4:00pm respectively.

  • AC Milan progress in Europa League despite Rennes fightback AC Milan progress in Europa League despite Rennes fightback

    AC Milan held off a stirring comeback by Rennes to book their place in the Europa League last 16.

    The Italian side looked to have the job done after last week’s 3-0 first-leg win at the San Siro, but the Ligue 1 outfit gave them a scare on home soil, with Benjamin Bourigeaud’s hat-trick sealing a 3-2 victory in the second leg.

    Milan goals from Luka Jovic and Rafael Leao proved pivotal as they secured a 5-3 aggregate win to go into the hat for Friday’s draw.

    Rennes knew they would have to make early inroads into their deficit if they were to have any chance of repairing the damage from a harrowing night in Milan last week.

    And they enjoyed the dream start as they went ahead in the 10th minute.

    Bourigeaud received the ball in the centre of the pitch, took a touch and then drilled a scorching low effort into the bottom corner.

    Milan were able to weather the early storm and got a crucial leveller in the 21st minute to restore their three-goal advantage.

    Tijjani Reijnders burst forward and teed up Theo Hernandez to send in an inviting cross which an unmarked Jovic powered home with his head.

    The hosts came again and thought they had made it 2-1 soon after but Arnaud Kalimuendo’s effort hit Mike Maignan without the Milan goalkeeper knowing too much about it.

    The French side did go back in front in the 54th minute when Bourigeaud got his second of the match, converting from the penalty spot after Martin Terrier had been fouled by Simon Kjaer.

    But they were again pegged back four minutes later as Milan made it 2-2 thanks to a fine Leao strike, the Portugal international guiding into the corner after a fine solo run.

    Bourigeaud claimed the matchball as Rennes took the lead for the third time in the match as he again emphatically scored from the penalty spot after VAR had spotted a foul by Jovic.

    That left them with 22 minutes of normal time to try and muster two goals and, although they attacked with intent and bluster they could not forge any real chances.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.