Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast in history after sealing her sixth career world all-around title at the 2023 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Antwerp.

The tournament marks the American’s return to major international competition after a two-year absence, and on Wednesday she led her team to a record seventh straight title.

Biles’ golden comeback continued in record-breaking style as she finished with a top score of 58.399, 1.633 points above Brazilian silver medallist Rebeca Andrade with compatriot Shilese Jones rounding out the top three.

Friday’s medal was Biles’ 34th at an Olympics or World Championship, the most achieved by a male or female gymnast in the history of the sport after surpassing the 33 achieved by Belarusian Vitaly Scherbo.

In a serendipitous twist, the 26-year-old’s historic gold came precisely 10 years – and in the exact same venue – as her first world all-around title in 2013.

Biles could still add more medals to her collection with the individual apparatus finals still to come on Saturday and Sunday – Biles has qualified for all four.

There was drama for Great Britain before the all-around competition even got under way.

Jessica Gadirova, the 2022 world floor champion, dropped out of the event at the last minute, British Gymnastics announcing the decision in a tweet which read: “Update. As a precautionary measure Jessica Gadirova will not be competing in tonight’s all-around World final, Alice Kinsella will now compete in her place for Great Britain.”

Kinsella ultimately finished seventh with a score of 54.032, while team-mate Ondine Achampong placed 13th in her first world all-around final.

Kinsella, the 2023 British national all-around champion, admitted the dramatic call-up came as a shock.

She told the BBC: “I only went [out] to do little bits and bobs like stretching, conditioning, and then I went off to get my foot rubbed, then my coach came over and was like, ‘Alice, you need to get your leotard on straight away.’

“I was a bit stressed, I didn’t really know what to do or say to anyone. I just ran to the toilet, shoved it on, and that was it really.”

 Eight-time Caribbean Cup champions Trinidad and Tobago have surged inside the top 100 on the FIFA World Rankings list for the first time in almost five years following recent wins over El Salvador and Curacao.

The Soca Warriors – in the latest list published Thursday – climbed four places up to 98th from 102, a spot they held in the last rankings in July. They were last inside the FIFA top 100 at 92nd in December 2018. Based on their world position, the twin island republic remains the fourth highest rated in Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumped two places up the FIFA list to 56th and remain number in CFU ahead of Haiti at 87th world ranked and Curacao (90th). Antigua and Barbuda complete the CFU’s top five at 137th.

In the only change to the CFU’s top 10, Guyana have climbed into 10th position with a three place move to 165th in the world, as Barbados – the result of Nations League losses to Montserrat and Nicaragua – slipped out of the top 10. The fell six places on the world list from 166th to 172nd.

World champions Argentina strengthened their grip at the summit of the world rankings. The Argentines, who dethroned Brazil at the top in April, defeated Ecuador and Bolivia in their 2026 World Cup qualifiers earlier this month to improve their status.

Despite losing to Germany in a friendly last week, France retained second place, followed by Brazil (third), England (fourth) and Belgium (fifth).

Neymar needs to lift the World Cup with Brazil to etch his name as a Selecao great, so says Mauro Silva, who referenced Lionel Messi's global success with Argentina.

Messi powered Lionel Scaloni's Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 36 years after lifting the coveted Jules Rimet trophy at the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

Neymar and his Brazil team-mates were eliminated from that edition of the world's top international tournament in a quarter-final defeat to Croatia on penalties.

The Selecao forward equalled Pele's scoring record for Brazil in the Croatia loss, and subsequently broke the landmark with two goals against Bolivia in Friday's World Cup qualifier.

But former Brazil and Deportivo midfielder Silva believes Neymar must achieve glory in the United States and Canada at the 2028 World Cup to fully write his name into national folklore.

The 59-cap Brazil international Silva told Stats Perform at the Thinking Football Summit: "Neymar is among the best. I would say among the five or 10 best in Brazil.

"There are very good footballers in there. Pele, there is Ronaldo, Romario, Bebeto – some very important people. But Neymar is undoubtedly among the best too.

"There is the expectation in Brazil that a player with Neymar's talent is capable of leading Brazil to a World Cup, just as happened with Messi and the Argentina team after so many years.

"Here in Brazil, people hope that a player with Neymar's talent can lead us to this important achievement.

"He is among the most important players in the history of Brazilian football, without a doubt, because of his numbers, for breaking Pele's record, for example.

"But he still has a lot to do.

"I hope he can achieve a World Cup for Brazil and this will undoubtedly consolidate him as one of the greats in the history of Brazilian football."

Since the World Cup Neymar has left Paris Saint-Germain, who he joined from Barcelona, to move to Al Hilal on a lucrative contract in Saudi Arabia.

While the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have made similar transfers to the Saudi Pro League, Silva hopes Neymar can continue to play at his peak in what he feels is a less competitive competition.

Silva added: "It is a challenge because when you are in the best competitions, competing every day, every week with the best teams and players, the demands make you maintain a very high level of performance.

"Now as being in a competition of a level that is not so high, it is a challenge. But let's see what happens.

"Nor can it be said that he will not be able to maintain the level, but I am convinced that this will be a great challenge for Neymar.

"We are in 2023 and the World Cup is in 2026, so there are still three years ahead where despite his age, his years, [Neymar] is in a league that is not as competitive as the European leagues.

"So he will have to maintain this high level to lead Brazil to a conquest. Hopefully he will be able to maintain this level until 2026 at least."

Jamaica’s Rajindra Campbell is off to a dream start on debut, as he secured his spot in the men’s shot-put final on Saturday’s opening day of the World Athletic Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Campbell, who earlier this year became the first Jamaican man to go beyond 22m when he launched the instrument to a national record of 22.22m, took his time to get going in Group A of qualifying, but eventually found his rhythm.

Though he missed the automatic qualifying mark of 21.40m, Campbell’s 20.83m on his third attempt, was good enough to make the final as it ranked him 10th across the two groups.

Prior to achieving the mark which placed him sixth in his group, the 27-year-old Campbell, opened with an underwhelming 19.83m and registered no mark on his second attempt.

Campbell rued a lack of warm up and the wet conditions for his slow start.

"I didn't get through the complete warm up, the rain poured so I didn't get to warm up around the back because there was lightning and all that, so I came out here and tried to force it. the ring was very slippery, so that caused a lot of downhill performance today, but as we progressed the ring got dryer and I could actually feel the grip and that is how the last one came together," the vibrant thrower shared.

While his national record ranked him fourth coming into the championships, Campbell remains grounded where his medal prospects are concerned.

"Honestly, I don't want to start getting into that right now because later on (the final is to come). So, the job is not done yet, for now I am holding it together, I want to get some food in my system, take a nap and then I will be back," he said.

"It is a level playing field...that's the thing about competition, anything can happen on the day. So, I am confident in myself, I believe when it is necessary, I can pull something together just like I did with this last throw. It's something I have been doing consistently all season, so anything is possible," Campbell added.

Brazil’s Darlan Romani headlines the finalist with a big season’s best of 22.37m. The big American pair of two-time World Champion Joe Kovacs (21.59m) and Olympic Champion Ryan Crouser (21.48m) are also in the mix for the final scheduled for later this evening at 1:35pm Jamaica time.

 

You can catch live action of the 2023 World Athletic Championships by downloading the Sportsmax App.

The Reggae Girlz remarkable and historic run on their second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance, may come as a surprise to many, but those close to the happenings believe it was always on the cards given the players and the coaching staff’s unflinching desire to succeed.

With another campaign being marred by talks of age-old issues of little or no practice games and inadequate preparation, as well as limited funding, ahead of the showpiece currently ongoing in Australia and New Zealand, the collective chorus is one of great optimism that the Reggae Girlz will now be taken seriously and will receive the necessary support and respect they deserve.

Former Head coach Hue Menzies, who was at the helm when the Reggae Girlz first qualified for the France 2019 World Cup, is among those singing praises about the current achievements. But he was also quick to point out that much more work needs to be done, as the country’s women’s football programme is still some ways off from its full potential.

The 43rd-ranked Girlz, who on World Cup debut lost all three games to Brazil, Italy and Australia in 2019, have displayed marked improvements on this occasion in holding top-ranked France and Brazil to goalless stalemates and secure their first ever World Cup win in a 1-0 scoreline over Panama on their way to the knockout stages.

Menzies, believes these accomplishments was another show of the players' resilience and strength of character, as they were given very little chance against their more illustrious opponents.

"I believe this was another statement of the players' dedication and commitment and determination to make Jamaica proud. They have again commanded people's attention with this achievement but again, the programme requires more funding if they are to get much closer to these top teams.

"But I am so proud for what the programme continues to achieve, and all the credit must go to Cedella [Marley], who brought us all together with the vision to build this programme. I think we have earned some respect across the world after these performances, but the most important thing is that we earn the respect from our own people of Jamaica," Menzies told Sportsmax.tv in a recent interview.

“Culturally we don’t support female football or female sports on a whole. Corporate Jamaica has to understand how significant it would be for them to collaborate with the Girlz, they can create an impactful platform to help young females to dream big.

“Not only that, but brand recognition through these young ladies, will benefit for a lifetime. So, we have won this World Cup battle but have to keep going to win the war where the holistic development of the programme is concerned,” he added.

Reggae Girlz manager Crystal Walters, who is one of the youngest present at the global showpiece, echoed similar sentiments, as she noted that the hard work and sacrifice made by the players and backroom staff, will never truly be understood by those standing on the outside looking in.

“From the very start of this journey the ladies have been my first priority, watching them rewrite history each time they step on the field, and just being a part of this journey is truly an amazing feeling. what amazes me the most is how well this team stick together with so many distractions, but these ladies thrive on having their backs against the wall and are our living legends,” Walters said from the team’s base in Australia.

For Walters, the onus is now on the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), the Government and also corporate partners to ensure they build on the Girlz achievements going forward.

“Our focus as a nation needs to be redirected to our grassroots programme, providing proper sporting facilities, as well as adequate sponsorship. It takes a lot to care, but this team has gone beyond greatness, and we need to build on the history that these amazing ladies and staff have once again created.

“It is indeed a fresh testament of what the country can achieve with more substantial backing, as the Girlz accomplishments will provide opportunities and open many doors for these and our other players. It is football for all and we need to use this opportunity to ensure we keep developing,” Walters opined.

Andrew Price, who along with current Head coach Lorne Donaldson, were assistants to Menzies during the 2019 success, said the Girlz — backed by a committed and resolute coaching staff — again forged ahead despite the enormous disparity in rankings, history, funding and support when compared to opponents like France and Brazil.

In fact, even Italy, who the Girlz lost to in 2019, failed to progress from their group on this occasion.

“The performance in Australia has been phenomenal. The Girlz continue to secure historic achievements, almost proving that merely qualifying for their second-consecutive FIFA Women's World Cup wasn't enough.

“These Girlz like to dream big. They went to Australia with a plan and driven by the technical staff, they bought into the plan.  They believed that they had the mental capacity to traverse the group and they did because they believed in each other,” Price noted.

“I told people who would listen, that this team is four years older, four years wiser and the experience they got from 2019 would serve them well. They played each team on their merit and took one game at time. The focus was to get out of the group, and they have accomplished that by showing great fight resilience. Keep the fire burning Reggae Girlz,” the veteran tactician shared.

The Reggae Girlz will next face 25th-ranked Colombia in Round of 16 action in Adelaide, on Tuesday and standout goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer declared that they are ready to once again prove their doubters wrong.

“We were hugely underestimated, obviously with the noise going on outside of us playing and the lack of matches that we had leading into the tournament, I don’t think anyone took us seriously,” the outspoken Spencer opined.

“But as a group, both players and staff, we know we are resilient we had a point to prove and for months we have been saying it, we are getting out of this group, and we have proven just that. I am just proud of everyone for sticking together and getting it done and now we want to keep going,” the Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper stated.

 Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has described the national women’s senior team’s historic qualification to the knockout stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on Wednesday as the “proudest moment in Jamaica’s football history.”

The Reggae Girlz advanced to the round of 16 for the first time after holding Brazil to a 0-0 draw that knocked the South American women out of the competition. 

“Their hard fought and determined draw against powerhouse Brazil is most commendable. I could not help shedding a few tears of joy,” the Jamaican sports minister said in a statement.

The undefeated Reggae Girlz have yet to concede goal at the 2023 tournament having held the fifth-ranked France to a 0-0 draw in their opening match and then defeating Panama 1-0l for their first-ever victory at the World Cup.

Jamaica finished their group in second place, behind France.

In her communications with the Girlz following the match, Minister Grange congratulated the team on their performance and reminded them that the entire nation was proud and cheering for them.

Minister Grange reiterated her message which she wrote to the team on the eve of their game against France, stating, “I can never tire of telling you how much your presence on the world stage means to Jamaica and the pride we all feel when we see you donned in the national colours. We see that dreams do come true.”

She said the Reggae Girlz are a source of inspiration for Jamaica and fully deserving of the nation’s full support. “I am happy that my government has been able to support the Jamaica Football Federation and the women’s programme on yet another successful World Cup campaign,” she said.

The Government, through the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport and the Sports Development Foundation provides a monthly subvention of J$3M (J$36M per annum) to the JFF for its programmes.

This year, the government allocated an additional J$20M specifically for the Reggae Girlz World Cup campaign, J$10M of which is to be paid directly to members of the squad under the Ministry’s Athlete Assistance Programme.

 In addition, the government insures the Reggae Girlz under the Jamaica Athlete Insurance Plan which covers all health related services including injuries and overseas emergency services up to US$100,000 per athlete.

“Our girls, particularly the Reggae Girlz, the Sunshine Girls (the national netballers who are competing in the World Netball World Cup in South Africa), and the women’s volleyball team (which won the Cazova Championship on the weekend) have made us very proud and have given us such a special gift as we celebrate our nation’s 61st anniversary of Independence.  We are proud of them.”

 

Brazil crashed out of the World Cup after Jamaica battled to a goalless draw in Melbourne to reach the last 16 for the first time.

South Africa came from behind to beat Italy 3-2 and finish runners-up in Group G, with Sweden seeing off Argentina 2-0 while a hat-trick from Kadidiatou Diani helped France beat Panama 6-3 to top Group F.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of Wednesday’s action.

Reggae Girlz march on

Jamaica produced a huge World Cup upset in Melbourne by holding Brazil to a goalless draw to reach the last 16 for the first time.

Brazil, who needed victory to progress, dominated their final Group F encounter at AAMI Park but could not find a breakthrough and bowed out at the group stage for the first time since 1995.

The Reggae Girlz, who held France to a 0-0 stalemate in their opening match before beating Panama 1-0, have yet to concede a goal at the tournament and go on to meet the winners of Group H, which will be decided on Thursday.

Late joy for Banyana Banyana

Thembi Kgatlana scored a stoppage-time winner to ensure South Africa reached the World Cup last 16 for the first time after coming from behind to beat Italy 3-2 in Wellington.

Kgatlana struck in the second minute of added time at the Sky Stadium in Wellington as Banyana Banyana secured their first World Cup win to finish second in Group G behind winners Sweden in thrilling fashion.

Arianna Caruso’s early penalty for Italy was cancelled out by Benedetta Orsi’s own goal. Hildah Magaia put South Africa ahead in the second half before Caruso levelled, which would have sent Le Azzurre through to the knockout stages.

Swedes set up USA date

Sweden were confirmed as winners of Group G, setting up a last-16 clash with defending champions the United States, as they defeated Argentina 2-0 in Hamilton.

The Swedes had already clinched qualification for the next round after beating South Africa and then trashing Italy 5-0.

Peter Gerhardsson’s side subsequently completed a 100 per cent record in group stage with Rebecka Blomqvist heading in a 66th-minute opener and substitute Elin Rubensson adding a late penalty as Argentina saw their campaign come to an end.

Diani at the treble

Kadidiatou Diani scored a hat-trick as France secured a place in the last 16 as Group F winners after coming from behind to beat Panama 6-3 in Sydney.

Needing a point to ensure progression, Les Bleues trailed in the second minute when Marta Cox’s superb free-kick gave already-eliminated competition debutants Panama their first-ever World Cup goal and a shock lead.

An emphatic response saw France equalise through Maelle Lakrar and a Diani brace – the second from the penalty spot. Lea Le Garrec’s effort put them 4-1 up heading into the break, with Diani then completing her treble with another spot-kick two minutes into the second half.

Panama reduced the deficit via Yomira Pinzon’s penalty and an 87th-minute Lineth Cedeno header before France midfielder Vicki Becho concluded the scoring in stoppage time.

France will now face the runner-up from Group H – a spot currently occupied by Germany – in Adelaide next Tuesday.

Up next

Group H: South Korea v Germany (11am)

Group H: Morocco v Colombia (11am)

All times BST

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)

If you ask Head coach Lorne Donaldson about Jamaica’s women’s football legacy, he will tell you that it started from their campaign to the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup in France, when they initially demonstrated utter resilience to accomplish the historic feat.

Then, the Reggae Girlz programme, through the unwavering commitment of women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley, as well as the Bob Marley and Reggae Girlz Foundations, experienced what could only be described as a rebirth from the ashes, after it was discarded and literally forgotten about by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Since then, the players and coaching staff –much like Marley –adopted the mentality to always focus on the task at hand, despite the financial shortfalls and other proverbial brick walls faced along the way.

So though much has been said about their recent exploits, Donaldson declared that what the world is once again witnessing is the remarkable grit of the Reggae Girlz outfit, as the players are no longer intimidated by obstacles, particularly those that come in the form of competition.

“When we got to that World Cup in 2019, I was the assistant and Hue Menzies, big praises to him, we worked together that squad, but we weren’t planning on going to the World Cup. Cedella Marley was brave in calling us up and having us help out because the football in Jamaica had diminished and we put it together and miraculously we got to the World Cup,” Donaldson shared.

 “Now we think we can take it further. So, the legacy started from there, but we still have a long way to go to achieve what countries like Brazil and others have achieved, so for now we are just trying to grow,” he added.

Donaldson’s views follow the Girlz momentous run at the ongoing showpiece being co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, as they are on the cusp of bringing a dream to fruition and, by extension, rewriting their names in the annals of Jamaica’s sporting history.

To do that, the 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz require only a point off number eight-ranked Brazil in their decisive Group F encounter at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Wednesday.

Kickoff is 5:00am Jamaica time.

The Girlz, who secured an historic point of top-ranked France in a goalless stalemate, followed that up with their first ever World Cup win by virtue of a 1-0 scoreline over Panama, to currently sit second on four points.

Leaders France are also on four points, but with a slightly better goal difference, which matters little, as they are overwhelmingly favoured to snare all three points off Panama.

Pia Sundhage's Brazil side is third on three points and must beat Donaldson’s side, if they are to progress from the group stage for a seventh-consecutive Women's World Cup.

Though on paper the Brazilians are heavily favoured to achieve their objective, the Reggae Girlz have proven that they are not to be underestimated and they possess the willpower to once again shock the world of women’s football.

And Donaldson agrees that the Jamaicans faith are in their own hands.

"Brazil is a powerhouse and I think we relish the challenge, all along we knew we were coming in as underdogs, even throughout the qualifiers we were underdogs. So, it's nothing new to us, we have to just be ready to come out and try to match them as best as we can,” Donaldson said.

“I said it before that we have grown from the qualification phase in Mexico because we really haven't had a lot of games after that and like I said, the players are resilient, they have worked hard and I know they would want to stay (in Australia) a bit longer, so we are going to come out and give it our best,” he noted.

While Brazil suffered defeat to France, Donaldson is under no illusions that they will approach tomorrow’s game with the same tactics, especially with Reggae Girlz talismanic captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw set to return from a red card suspension.

Shaw, along with Cheyna Matthews is expected to rejoin Jody Brown up in attack, while Donaldson and his assistants could stick with Drew Spence, Vyan Sampson and Atlanta Primus, in midfield.

At the back, Rebecca Spencer should again be shadowed by Swaby sisters, Allyson and Chantelle, flanked by Deneisha Blackwood on the left, while Tiernny Wiltshire could reclaim her staring spot at right back.

“I'm sure Brazil will make the adjustments from what happened in that France game, obviously we will try to limit some stuff and just use what we think we are capable of doing,” Donaldson shared.

“There are nerves but we just have to go in and enjoy it, we don’t have anything to lose, we just have to go out enjoy ourselves and play. A player like “Bunny” Shaw is going to pose problem for anybody, we are happy to have her back and obviously we can use her in areas that we didn't against Panama and try to be effective, but everybody has to do their job,” he ended.

Jamaica's assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says the senior Reggae Girlz are well aware of the importance of focusing on the task at hand, instead of overdosing on the high of earning their first ever Fifa Women's World Cup point.

Though their historic goalless draw against one of the tournaments favourite and fifth-ranked France is worth celebrating, Gilbert pointed out that the players required no reminders about their main objective at the tournament being co-hosted in Australia and New Zealand --to progress beyond the group stages.

In fact, the assistant to Head coach Lorne Donaldson emphasized that the focus shifted to their upcoming game against Panama, soon after they departed the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday, where the 43rd-ranked Girlz gritty performance delighted a crowd of almost 40,000.

"I think we did well, we had our game plan against France and the Girlz executed, not perfectly, but well enough to earn us a point in an atmosphere that almost felt like Jamaica's National Stadium. The crowd was really behind us and supported us and for that we are happy, even moreso, to get on the board where the point is concerned, but it's unto the next game," Gilbert told SportsMax.tv.

"It (the point) is huge, and it no doubt ranks high on the list of the country's accomplishments among male or female teams, but more importantly, it puts us in good stead for the rest of the tournament and the players know that. So, while they basked in the achievement, they remain focus on the job at hand and know the level of work they have to put in to earn it," he added.

The Girlz have now been subjected to much higher expectations than they usually entertain with many pundits now believing they can pull off what initially seemed an impossible task of getting out Group F which also includes number eight-ranked Brazil.

That hype and confidence behind the team has reached a level where the Girlz commanded the media spotlight for the past two days and even earned the respect of many, who would have probably scoffed at their ambitions in the buildup to this, their second appearance global showpiece, following three losses on debut in France 2019.

Still, Gilbert reiterated that the players are aware that the off-field hype isn't enough to carry the team and it is only through consistent efficiency in their performances against more top-quality teams that will truly prove them worthy.

"I'm sure the other teams will start to respect us now, we had objectives that we want to achieve so the strength of the first game performance would have increased the confidence level in the Girlz ability and what they can achieve in the tournament," he said.

"But we haven’t won anything yet, so obviously there’s a lot of expectations, but we still feel like the underdogs, and we still have a lot of work to do as we keep building towards a sustainable and competitive women’s football programme," Gilbert noted.

With Brazil currently at the top of the group on three points, the Jamaicans, who are joint second on a point with France, will be hoping to assert their authority against 52nd-ranked Concacaf rivals Panama, who are without a point, after a 0-4 loss to the Brazilians.

Though the Reggae Girlz setup has improved significantly where player quality is concerned, since that famous October 17, 2018, penalty shootout victory against the Panamanians, which secured their first World Cup berth, Gilbert said they will by no means grandstand against their rivals come Saturday at the Perth Rectangular Stadium, especially without inspirational captain Khadija "Bunny" Shaw.

The prolific striker picked up two yellow cards I that opening contest against France. Efforts have since been made to have the second caution that led to the suspension, overturned, but it is left to be seen what will transpire.

For now, Gilbert explained that they are proceeding accordingly.

"It's a huge disappointment both for her [Bunny] and the team that she will miss the next game, but the ladies are professional, they know what is at stake, they understand what to do and again it's just about the belief in their own ability to get the job done without Bunny.

"So we are preparing for the next game in that vein because we don't underestimate any team. So as soon as we got the Girlz recovered, it was back to business because we have to take care of business come Saturday," Gilbert ended.

 

Ary Borges stole the headlines on day five of the Women’s World Cup as her hat-trick helped Brazil thrash tournament debutants Panama 4-0 in Adelaide.

There were also plenty of goals in Melbourne where Germany brushed aside Morocco 6-0, with captain Alexandra Popp bagging a brace, while Italy left it late to beat Argentina 1-0.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at all of Monday’s action.

Borges powers Brazil

Brazil’s opening match of the tournament was all about Borges, who scored the tournament’s first hat-trick and set up Bia Zaneratto for the other in a one-sided match in Group F.

The winger had a first-half brace, both headers from Debinha’s crosses, before her neat backheel laid on the third of the match for Zaneratto just three minutes into the second half.

Borges then headed in Brazil’s fourth 20 minutes from time to put her side in a strong position in the group after France’s draw with Jamaica.

Germany lay down a marker

Germany, the world’s number two side, immediately set out their stall in Melbourne with a dominant performance against Morocco.

Captain Popp, who missed the Euro 2022 final against England with an injury picked up in the warm-up, found the net with two clinical headers inside the opening 45 minutes.

Klara Buhl then added a third early in the second half before Morocco crumbled, both Hanane Ait el Haj and Yasmin Mrabet putting through their own net.

Substitute Lea Schuller then added a sixth late on after Germany had struck the frame of the goal twice and had another ruled out for offside.

Italy snatch late victory

Cristiana Girelli came off the bench to make the difference for Italy as her 87th-minute goal secured a 1-0 win over Argentina.

Italy had been grown frustrated against a stubborn display from their opponents, with goals from Arianna Caruso and Valentina Giacinti ruled out for offside.

Girelli came on to replace 16-year-old midfielder Giulio Dragoni, who justified her selection with a composed display in midfield.

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Tiffany Cameron believed the foundation for her to achieve continued success in a longstanding career, hinged on her making another Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance, backed by a new signing.

So, the fact the Canada-born player was overcome with emotions when news came that she made Jamaica’s final squad to the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, followed by a new deal with top flight Spanish club Real Betis, is understandable, as everything fell in place as she had hoped.

For the Reggae Girl striker, turned defender, both accomplishments are a testament of her hard work and unwavering determination to ensure she remains prominent on the international and club scene in a career spanning over 10 years.

“When the (World Cup) roster was released, I had a big smile on my face and I did shed a little tear because it has been quite the journey for me. This is my third World Cup, second with Jamaica and I had one with Canada at the youth level, so it is definitely something to really be proud of,” said Cameron, who was also a part of Jamaica’s historic team at the 2019 global showpiece in France.

Cameron’s sense of satisfaction, particularly where the Reggae Girlz are concerned, comes from the fact that it initially seemed like she would have missed out on the final 23, based on the approach Lorne Donaldson and his assistants took.

In fact, versatility was always expected to be a characteristic held in high regard by the coaching staff in making their selections and Cameron, recognizing that much, paraded her immense potential by assuming a role as a right full back.

It is that show of versatility that propelled her above others.

Prior to the Cup of Nations tournament, the 31-year-old did not get many minutes, until she accepted the fact that she would not make the squad as an attacker.

Despite logging over 14 goals and more than 10 assists in over 15 games for her previous club FC Gyor in the Hungarian top-flight league, Cameron, who could be considered an important leader in the Reggae Girlz group, embraced change and made the right full back position her comfort zone.

"I’m glad I defeated the odds. It just proves what I’m willing to do to represent Jamaica. I’ll play anywhere needed. Yes, I love to score goals and play forward, but it’s not all about that,” Cameron declared.

“I think I have really worked hard this year and I have proven that I am a versatile player wherever the national team needs me, I am able to play, and I think that is super important going into the World Cup that we have players that are okay with possibly playing in different positions that is being asked of them,” she added.

That said, Cameron, whose career has taken her to club in various parts of Europe and elsewhere around the world, expressed intentions to continue working extremely hard at improving her craft, as she looks forward to playing a key role in Real Betis’s charge when the Liga F gets under way.

“I’m really looking forward to my new adventure with Real Betis. I love the Spanish football culture as it is predominantly possession based. It’s similar to the style of football in Germany, where I’ve played for two and a half seasons in the top division, so this style of football won’t be foreign to me,” Cameron shared.

She continued: “I enjoy combinational play and possession-based football. I think my best qualities are my speed, my fitness, my versatility, my movement off the ball and my ability to combine with the players around me and create goal scoring opportunities for myself and others.

“I believe that no matter a player’s age they can always improve in all aspects of the game. This will be a good challenge for me and like I’ve proven with Jamaica, I respond well when I’m challenged and is expected to prove why I belong in an environment. I’ve worked hard for everything that I’ve achieved thus far and I’m truly grateful that my efforts have been acknowledged.”

But for now, Cameron’s attention is fully focused on the Reggae Girlz objective which to get out of Group F at the World Cup. They are scheduled to open against fifth-ranked France on Sunday, before engaging Panama on July 29 and Brazil on August 2.

“I think its super important the team bonding off the field, I think we utilized our time well in the respective camps and we are ready and raring to go. The shout outs from Sean Paul, DJ Khalid and others, will also certainly help to fuel us,” the multi-talented player, who also dabbles in music, ended.

 

Carlo Ancelotti has the "experience and quality" needed to help Brazil win their sixth World Cup, according to former Selecao midfielder Lucas Leiva.

Ancelotti is reportedly set to become Brazil's new head coach at the end of the 2023-24 season when his contract expires at Real Madrid, where he has enjoyed a hugely successful association, winning a pair of Champions League titles over two spells with the club.

Brazil, meanwhile, are coming off the back of a disappointing World Cup that saw them crash out on penalties to Croatia in the quarter-finals, ending their hopes of lifting the famous trophy for a record-extending sixth time and leading to head coach Tite resigning from his post.

It has been 21 years since the Selecao last won the World Cup, but Lucas believes Ancelotti is the right appointment to bring international football's top prize back to Brazil at the next edition in 2026.

"It's the first time that a foreign manager takes over the national team," Lucas said. "It’s exciting because he's a winner, he’s won everything, wherever he went he was successful.

"We just hope that he can bring his experience and his qualities to the national team because we want to win the World Cup again.

"Now as a fan, I will be hoping that Ancelotti does a fantastic job, because at the end of the day, we want Brazil winning and if he can bring experience and quality and his knowledge about football to Brazil, not only the national team, but the country, I think it will be fantastic."

Ancelotti has won the title in all five of the major European leagues, while no manager has as many Champions League trophies as his four.

It is this status as a serial winner that makes Lucas so confident in Ancelotti's ability to lead Brazil to glory again.

Lucas, who played 24 times for his national team between 2007 and 2013, explained: "If you look at his career, he's won everywhere he went.

"I just hope that he can bring all his qualities here. He's experienced and he has talent to manage a national team like Brazil with so many players who didn't win the last four or five World Cups.

"If he's the right person, I think so and I think he showed in his career that he is able to do that. We could say many names here that could also be the right manager for the national team of Brazil. But I think he is one of the managers that is capable of bringing new ideas and new things for the team."

The general belief in Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz camp is that they can progress beyond the group stages on this, their second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup appearance.

In fact, Head coach Lorne Donaldson would readily declare that the possibility of his Reggae Girlz achieving the feat is by no means impossible. Still, he is under no illusion that defeating or merely taking points off the new-look, young and formidable Brazil outfit, as well as the well-organised and experienced France team, will be easy.

While their just-concluded camp in Amsterdam inspires confidence, as it assisted in fine-tuning certain technical and tactical aspects, Donaldson admits that the team is still not yet where he wants them to be with the July 20 to August 20 global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand, now nine days away.

“The camp was good; I wish we had a game which would have been the true test, but it was good, nonetheless. The players worked hard, and they seem very focused, but we're not there yet.

“We still have a few more days to go, so we start working on some of the tactical stuff and I the players are going in with a sense of purpose because they know what's at stake,” Donaldson told Sportsmax.tv shortly after arriving in Australia on Monday.

Since the start of their build up to the World Cup, Donaldson has stressed the importance of holding a tight defensive line, being very well organised and more effective when in possession, if they want to be competitive.

The 43rd-ranked Reggae Girlz will open Group F play on July 23 against the number five-ranked Les Bleues, which is now the centre of their focus.

“I think France is playing a game (against Australia on Friday), so we might get a look at what their starting squad is like and just see exactly how we want to approach the game and how we want to match up against them and just go from there. If we want to be competitive, we will need to defend, and be very well organised and when we have possession, we would like to be more effective,” Donaldson shared.

“So, we still have some tactical stuff to look at and work on. I think our players know that they have to show up and be ready to perform so that makes life a little bit easier sometimes, but yes, we have to hold them accountable for certain things especially tactical mistakes,” he added.

After France, the Girlz will then tackle 52nd-ranked Panama on July 29, before closing against 8th-ranked Brazil on August 2.

However, before all of that, they will engage on final preparation game against Morocco which Donaldson believes will serve them well to lock in their plan towards efficient execution Down Under.

“We will use that game to try some things, we will give as much players as possible some minutes because the aim is to improve the work that we're doing, and we saw some stuff that we need to clean up. So, we will use this game to do that and then look at some tape with the players to see how much more we can brush up on our execution,” the coach noted.

That said, Donaldson, who was an assistant to Hue Menzies when the Girlz were hammered 0-3, 0-5 and 1-4 by Brazil, Italy and Australia on their World Cup debut in France in 2019, said they have no intentions of going out in that manner on this occasion.

“We expect to do well and get something out of the tournament,” he declared.

“We are not going to come here to the World Cup to lay down, we are going to push to get some success. We are planning to get out of the group, whichever way we have to get it done, we intend to get it done. So, it's just a matter of how well we execute when it comes to the big day,” Donaldson ended.

Willian believes the Brazil national team are in a transition period as they look to appoint a new coach.

Brazil have not yet appointed a permanent successor to Tite, who left after the Selecao were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup by Croatia in the quarter-finals.

Carlo Ancelotti is reportedly wanted by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).

Brazil will play friendlies against Guinea and Senegal in June, with interim coach Ramon Menezes naming a strong squad, and Willian, who was part of the Selecao's squad for the 2014 and 2018 World Cups, feels that the national team is also in need of a fresh injection of talent into the squad.

"In 2018 we were very confident that we could reach the final and win the title," he told Stats Perform.

"This time, I thought Brazil were a strong candidate to reach the final and win the World Cup, but that didn't work out either.

"So it's hard to tell if it [a sixth World Cup win] is far away or if is close. I think now Brazil are in a transition process, waiting for a coach and also a change in the players.

"But Brazil's national team will always enter any competition to win. It is the team with the most World Cup titles, so it will always enter the World Cup or any other competition to win."

 

Asked who he thinks should be the next coach of Brazil, Willian said: "It's hard to give an opinion because a lot of people say it should be a foreigner, and a lot of people say it should be Brazilian.

"I think it has to be a manager that helps the team, regardless of being Brazilian or foreign. But one that will help the team to reach the main objective which is to be able to be champion of the World Cup."

When it was put to him that it would be easier if a Brazil coach spoke Portuguese, Willian replied: "I think so, but it depends. When you're on the pitch, the language of football is universal.

"I think it helps to speak the same language, but it's not a question that makes any difference in the end.

"The important thing is to have a coach who knows how to manage the group, who knows how to talk to each player, do the work on the pitch and has the human part too, which is very important in football today.

"Regardless of whether the coach speaks the same language or not, the most important thing is that he knows how to deal with the players."

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