It’s a case of picking up where they left off –or at least Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz will try to do so against Brazil at the Arena de Pernambuco in Recife on Saturday at 3:00pm Jamaica time.

While they held the South American powerhouse to a goalless stalemate at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia, the Girlz were on a more competitive war path back then with much to prove.

The same cannot be said about the team on this occasion, as this encounter will mark the first assignment together for that World Cup core group in almost nine months. This, as they last played together in September last year when they lost to Canada in the Olympic qualifying playoff.

Though their confidence is high, the 42nd-ranked Jamaicans will be up against a more youthful Brazilian outfit, as the number 10-ranked nation is gradually transitioning from its veterans Marta, Tamires and Cristiane, just to name a few. In fact, this two-match friendly series which is part of Brazil’s preparation for the Olympic Games in Paris, are expected to mark the official sendoff of the legendary Marta, into retirement.

Still, Reggae Girlz defender Deneisha Blackwood is backing the team to give a good account in the Brazilians backyard.

“Both countries are a lot similar in terms of physicality and technical abilities, so I feel it's a good game for us to bring back our team forward again. In terms of scoreline, I can't really predict what the score line will be, but I can promise that it's going to be a good game,” Blackwood said during a pre-game conference on Friday.

“Our team is very good in terms of the camaraderie, so the moment we got back together, it's like we never left. Yes, we haven't been together for the last nine months, but you couldn't tell. I feel like our group is just so well put together. Obviously, every team has its challenges, but I feel like our mindset when we're together is always to be better, so whether we're apart for nine months or two months, it's just always been a good team environment,” she added.

Meanwhile, Head coach Hubert Busby explained that while they will be seeking to build on their defensive fortitude that earned the historic draws against France and Brazil at last year’s showpiece, he is also hoping to execute a possession based tactic.

“I think it (our defence) is a platform on which we built a lot of our success at last year’s World Cup, and even prior to that. So I think it's one of the things that we'll continue to do. The game is played in many different phases, but you always give yourself a good opportunity to be successful with a good defensive platform, and so that will continue as well because good defensive platform is needed against a very good technical Brazilian team,” Busby shared. 

That said, Busby pointed out that Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw’s presence is certainly missed, but in the same breath he argued that the prolific Manchester City striker's absence also presents an opportunity for other players to step up and showcase the squad’s depth.

“Injuries happen and unfortunately she [Shaw] is not able to be with us, but we have a really good depth and a really good squad and so we know another player will step up. We have more than enough players to come in and give us different qualities from what she [Shaw] gives us,” the former national goalkeeper reasoned.

“But it is a team we've organized, we've known that she's going to be away for a couple of weeks now, so we've just kind of obviously looked to adapt in terms of how we look to play and what we're looking to do over a longer period of time. So really, the whole process for us is to keep building so that we can be back in this wonderful country in 2027 (for the World Cup),” Busby ended. 

Senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Hubert Busby expressed pleasure with the foundation laid at the team’s first in-person engagement since his reappointment, and he believes it sets a good tone for the remainder of the camp in Brazil.

Busby and his squad –with the exception of Jody Brown, who was scheduled to arrive late –went through what he said was a lively two-hour session to hit the ground running ahead of the two-match friendly series against The Female Canaries on June 1 and June 4.

While the games will aide Brazil’s preparations for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, for Busby and his team, the outing is more about rekindling their competitive spirit, as it represents the first assignment together for the core group of players after almost nine months apart.

Those Girlz that represented at last year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup withdrew their services after the Olympic qualifiers against Canada in September, citing nonpayment and mistreatment from Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) among their reasons.

Now reunited, Busby pointed out that the first session was to get the Girlz reacquainted with the structures the team plans to implement going forward.