With another window providing another pair of defeats to reflect on, interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is hopeful that the rift between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) will be resolved soon, so the programme can regain its competitive edge before the start of any other major women’s competition.

This, as he bemoans the fact that the impasse had a hand in Jamaica’s failure to qualify for the ongoing inaugural Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, and the possibility of the country’s current ranking taking a hit by virtue of the recent results, which could discourage potential opponents.  

Gilbert’s sentiments follow the new-look Reggae Girlz 0-1 defeat to Chile in the second of their two-match international friendly series in Santiago on Tuesday. Yessenia Lopez scored the lone goal in the 34th minute.

The Girlz lost the first game 1-5 on Friday.

While he welcomed the improved performance from the new-look team, coupled with the exposure to high level competition for most players in a now widened pool, Gilbert believes a mixture of the World Cup players and their younger counterparts is the best way to build going forward.

“Both games served us well because like I said a number of players were exposed to high level competition and it was good. So, I hope we can continue to use the FIFA windows, to not only widen the pool and look at as many players as possible, but also to ensure that we are in competitive mode ahead of the other competitions including the World Cup qualifiers,” Gilbert said.

“So, I am optimistic that the World Cup Girlz will be up for selection (for the April window), so hopefully all things can be sorted out by then because we want to continue to build,” he told SportsMax.TV.

Reflecting on the overall trip to Chile, pointed out that the improved performance speaks volumes of what can be achieved when players spend more time together, as he believes additional training sessions contributed to a more energetic and cohesive display.

“It was a way better performance and I honestly thought that we should have taken something out of the game. We created a few scoring opportunities and should have converted at least one, but overall, everything about the performance was much better in terms of our energy and all that,” Gilbert shared.

“I think we applied ourselves much better than the first, and I think having a few training sessions contributed to that because we sorted a few things out. So, we were better and more aggressive in terms of how we defend and applied pressure to the Chileans,” he added.

 Despite the low of dealing with numerous player injuries, Gilbert rated the overall trip a success where player development is concerned.

“We made six changes from the first game, and some were forced changes, so that was a major low for us. But the high point is the exposure that the younger players got and the way they performed, I think they acquitted themselves well which augurs well for the programme going forward,” he ended.

Though disappointed by their hefty defeat to Chile in their opening friendly contest, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert maintain that his youthful senior Reggae Girlz outfit will learn from the setback, as he anticipates an improved performance in the second encounter on Tuesday.

In fact, Gilbert is confident that the more his new-look team plays, the better the performances will be, as they continue to introduce and expose players to the senior programme, mainly due to the current standoff between the World Cup players and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

The Chileans through goals from Michelle Olivares (12th), Maria Jose Urrutia (22nd), Yestin Jimenez (61st), Yenny Acuna (70th) and Paloma Duarte (88th), outclassed their Jamaican counterparts at the Juan Pinto Duran Stadium in Chile on Friday. Chinyelu Asher (77th) with her seventh international goal, pulled one back for the Jamaicans.

“I don’t think we were good enough to be honest, we started off really shaky and allowed them too much space to play despite what we said we wanted to achieve and how we wanted to approach the game. We were a little bit tentative on the back foot and they exploited those areas that we left opened,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“We were much better in the second half, so we will look to build on that because it is a learning process, and so we will see how best we can carry that momentum over into the next game,” he added.

Along with the lack of preparation heading into the games, Gilbert pointed out that niggling injuries also marred their performance, as a number of the college players are just getting back into season, while former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey is still gradually working her way back from a knee surgery.

“It was difficult because some players are recovering from injury and some college players are just heading back into season, but it is what we have to work with, and we just have to put a better showing in the next game. The more we play oppositions like these, the better we will get. As I said before, this is new for a lot of them on the international stage, so the more we play, the more competitive we will be,” Gilbert reasoned.

Still, with the next game scheduled for Tuesday, the veteran tactician is keen on using the remaining time in Chile to work on certain aspects of the team’s game, with hopes of conducting more intensive work when they next assemble for the April window.

“But for now we are just going to recover and assess the game, look at where we went wrong and improve some things that we could have done better. There are some areas that needs more work than what we will be able to fix here, but we are going to ensure we have good defensive organisation,” Gilbert declared.

“So, we are going to give a few other players some minutes to get back into fold and we are going to continue to work to make sure that defensively we are solid, and also tighten up on how we match up against opponents like these, so we should give a better account of ourselves in the next game,” he ended.

In the face of adversity and ongoing disputes, the Jamaica Football Federation has announced a 22-player squad for two crucial international friendly matches against Chile on February 23 and 27. However, the squad is notably missing key senior first-team players who continue to abstain due to unresolved issues with the football federation, primarily revolving around unpaid fees and related concerns.

The delegation set to represent Jamaica in these significant international friendly encounters includes a mix of talented players from various backgrounds and universities. Among them are standout athletes like Theana Burnett from Sacred Heart University, Serena Mensa from Fordham University, and Sydnie Street from Seneca College. The team boasts a diverse roster, showcasing players from institutions such as George Mason University, SCU Torreense, and SK Slavia Praha Zeny.

Despite the absence of the senior first-team players, the selected squad is ready to face the formidable Chilean opponents. The delegation, consisting of both local officials and SWNT (Senior Women's National Team) players, is scheduled to depart from Jamaica on Tuesday, February 20. The entire team will assemble in Chile a day later, brimming with determination and unity.

The list of players includes Nevillegail Able from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, Alika Keene from SK Slavia Praha Zeny, and Ricshya Walker from LaSalle University, among others. Each player brings their unique skills and experiences to the field, forming a cohesive unit ready to represent Jamaica on the international stage.

Leading the charge is the coaching and support staff, with Xavier Gilbert at the helm as the Head Coach, supported by Assistant Coach Jermaine Thomas, Team Manager Crystal Walters, and Team Doctor Ruchelle Brown. The staff also includes physiotherapist Ashley Stephens, masseur Devin Lawson, GK Coach Everdean Scarlet, equipment manager Omar Folkes, and trainer Leacroft Lettman. Heading the delegation is Paul Beckford, the Head of Delegation.

Full squad: Theana Burnett, Sacred Heart University; Serena Mensa, Fordham University; Sydnie Street, Seneca College; Zoe Vidaurre, George Mason University; Nevillegail Able, University of Maine at Fort Kent; Chinyelu Asher, SCU Torreense; Alika Keene, SK Slavia Praha Zeny; Ricshya Walker, LaSalle University; Marlo Sweatman, Viktoria Haladas; Christina Salmon, William Carey University; Davia Richards, Hill College; Mikayla Dayes, Rodez AF (France); Shaneil Buckley, XLCR; Melissa Johnson, Charlton Athletic Women FC; Aliyah Morgan, George Mason University; Jade Bailey, London City Lionessess; Destiny Powell, XLCR; Lachante Paul, Burnley FC; Isreala Groves, London City Lionesses; Naya Cardoza, Brown University; Njeri Butts, University Of Florida; Lexi Lloyd-Smith, Southampton FC Women's.

 

 

 

With members of last year’s senior Reggae Girlz FIFA World Cup squad and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) still yet to amicably agree on the way forward, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert has once again pooled a fairly inexperienced team for a two-match friendly against Chile later this month.

Gilbert, who welcomed the fixtures, and his Reggae Girlz is expected to assemble in the South American country on February 21, ahead the two games scheduled for February 23 and 27.

“It is always important to utilize the FIFA windows so getting these games is a good move from the JFF and, of course, we get to expose some of the young talent that we have to offer to top level competition so they can gain the necessary experience that will be required as we look ahead,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

The 22-player squad comprises mostly players that contested last year’s Women’s Gold Cup qualifiers, with former Liverpool midfielder Jade Bailey, who recently signed with London City Lionesses, making a return to the national setup following a knee surgery, while National Under-17 representative Naya Cardoza, makes her transition to the senior team.

“It is very good to have Jade back she is a very good player who was out for quite some time, so it is good to have her back in the fold giving her level of experience and we expect her to be one of the leaders in the team where guiding the younger players is concerned,” Gilbert noted.

This will be the second two-match friendly series between the two teams following their 2019 meeting in Jamaica, which the Reggae Girlz won 1-0 and 3-2. However, Chile came away 6-0 winners in their most recent meeting at last year’s Pan American Games.

“We are expecting another good game from Chile, obviously they are a pretty good team with a lot to offer. It is never comfortable going into another team’s base to play, so we just have to go there and give of our best, because like I said, these games are important for players to not only gain experience, but also to develop some semblance of cohesion going forward,” Gilbert reasoned.

Squad: Theanna Burnett (Sacred Heart University), Serena Mensa (Fordham University), Malikae Dayes (AAB, Denmark), Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University), Nevillegail Able (University of Maine, Fort Kent), Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense), Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny), Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University), Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas), Christina Salmon (William Carey University), Davia Richards Player (Hill College),Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF, France), Shaneil Buckley (Excelsior High), Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC), Aliyah Morgan (George Mason University), Jade Bailey (London City Lionessess), Destiny Powell (Excelsior High), Lachante Paul (Burnley FC), Isreala Groves (London City Lionesses), Naya Cardoza (Brown University), Njeri Butts (University Of Florida), Sydnie Street (Seneca College)

Tivoli Gardens, for the second time this season, downed neighbours Arnett Gardens 3-1, but the manner in which they did it on this occasion would certainly have sent a message to their other rivals in the Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL).

Not only did Tivoli Gardens have to come from behind in the marquee Monday night encounter at the Stadium East Field, but they did so at a numerical disadvantage in tough underfoot conditions caused by evening showers.

The West Kingston team was spurred by a brace from former Arnett Gardens winger Steve Clarke (76th and 80th), and a long overdue strike from the league's joint leading scorer Justin Dunn (73rd), after they lost substitute Howard Morris to a straight red card in the 61st. Fabian Reid had earlier put Arnett Gardens in front in the 57th minute.

With the win, which extended their unbeaten run across four matches, Tivoli's Gardens inched up to fourth on 34 points, while Arnett Gardens, who had their three-match unbeaten run snapped, slipped to fourth on 33 points.

Winning coach Jerome Waite welcomed Clarke's impact on his return to the league.

"Despite the fact that we weren't prepared where the proper footing is concerned, the result ended in our favour. I spoke about the players who came in through the transfer market and today you saw what those players basically have to offer," Waite said, adding that losing Morris didn't affect their game plan much.

"The only change was that we had a three-pronged attack, and we asked one of those players to sit in the midfield. These players, the worked that they put in leading up to this game, showed here and it can only can better as the season progresses," he noted.

Arnett Gardens dominated proceedings for most of the first half and had a few openings from which they should have opened the scoring but failed to make them count. After Warner Brown skied a left-footed effort from deep inside the 18-yard box, Keheim Dixon, had a clear 12th-minute opportunity in a one-on-one situation with Tivoli Gardens goalkeeper Diego Haughton, but fired his effort into the crossbar.

With very little going Tivoli Gardens way, Dunn tried his luck from a distance, but Asher Hutchinson in goal for Arnett Gardens, got down well to his right to parry.

Reid also had a grand opportunity to break the deadlock in the 27th minute when he went on a break and dismissed Haughton, who strayed off his line, but the Arnett Gardens captain was undone by the conditions, as the score remained goalless at the break.

However, Reid made amends for his earlier slip up and sent the ‘Junglists’ in front 12 minutes into the resumption, as he got on the end of a Jamone Shepherd pass and fired past Haughton, who again strayed off his line and was caught in no man's land.

Along with the lead, Arnett Gardens also had a numerical advantage when Morris was sent for an early shower by referee Oshane Nation, but seemingly got complacent, and were punished for it. This, as Tivoli Gardens went rampant in the final 20 minutes of the contest and were assisted by some shoddy defending by their opponents.

The West Kingston team’s fortunes turned when a well-struck 71st-minute freekick by substitute Vishinul Harris, was kept out parried by Hutchinson and Shepherd senselessly felled Alton Lewis inside the danger area.

Dunn, who endured a lengthy goal drought after his blistering start to the season, stepped up and converted from the 12-yard spot to pull Tivoli Gardens level with his 10th goal of the season.

From there, it was the Steve Clarke show, as the former Arnett Gardens man doubled the lead three minutes later when he got on the end of Harris’s delightful through-pass and fired past Hutchinson on a second attempt.

Clarke then completed his brace and the victory for Tivoli Gardens when he finished a right-footer with aplomb, after Arnett Gardens failed to clear their lines from Shaquille Jones’s cross.

Arnett Gardens' Head coach Xavier Gilbert believed they were undone by a lack of proper game management. 

"I think we made some poor decisions around the back, but credit to Tivoli Gardens for the way they came at us because I think we managed the game poorly and we have to be smarter than that. We were a goal up and a man up and I just don't think we made good decisions, so it's just unfortunate and we just have move on...bounce back quickly and a move on," Gilbert said.

Matchweek 17 Results

Lime Hall Academy 1, Treasure Beach FC 0

Montego Bay United 2, Vere United 0

Portmore United 1, Dunbeholden 1

Mount Pleasant FA 1, Molynes United 1

Waterhouse 0, Cavalier FC 1

Humble Lion 2, Harbour View 4

Tivoli Gardens 3, Arnett Gardens 1

Arnett Gardens extended their unbeaten run across six games when they took the scalp of reigning champions Mount Pleasant FA with a 2-0 victory in an entertaining Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League (WNJPL) encounter at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Wednesday.

After playing out a goalless first half, the ‘Junglists’ eventually broke the deadlock through Kimani Arbouine’s well-driven 54th-minute effort from just outside the 18-yard box.

Jaheim Thomas then capped the win with a delightful 69th-minute volley that beat Shaquan Davis, in goal for Mount Pleasant, all ends up.

With the win, the Xavier Gilbert-coached Arnett Gardens inched up to 21 points, same as second-placed Tivoli Gardens, but with a game in hand. Both are now a solitary point behind Mount Pleasant, who despite the loss, remain atop the standing.

Earlier, Tivoli Gardens through goals from Kimarley Smith (52nd), Howard Morris (62nd) and Alton Lewis (65th) downed Harbour View 3-0 in a lopsided affair. The loss saw Harbour View slipping back to 11th position on 10 points.

Much like Arnett Gardens, Dunbeholden FC continued their unbeaten run with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Waterhouse FC.

Damion Binns’ 53rd-minute own-goal and Brian Burkett’s 90th-minute strike, was enough to hand Dunbeholden the points, after Javane Bryan (41st) gave Waterhouse the lead.

The win moved Dunbeholden up to fifth on 18 points, same as fifth-placed Portmore United, who edged Vere United 1-0, while Waterhouse are sixth on 15 points.

Meanwhile, Humble Lion secured their first win under the guidance of Vassell Reynolds, as they edged Lime Hall Academy 1-0. The win stopped a three-match losing skid, and moved the Clarendon-based team up to 14 points in ninth position, while promoted Lime Hall remain at the foot of the 14-team standing on four points.

Matchweek 11 Results

Arnett Gardens 2, Mount Pleasant FA 0

Tivoli Gardens 3, Harbour View 0

Humble Lion 1, Lime Hall Academy 0

Waterhouse FC 1, Dunbeholden FC 2

Vere United 0, Portmore United 1

Cavalier 1, Treasure Beach FC 0

Molynes United 2, Montego Bay United 1

Arnett Gardens Head coach Xavier Gilbert expressed delight about his team’s dominant showing against Vere United, as they gave football enthusiasts a glimpse of the depth of their squad with a 2-0 win in Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League action on Monday night.

Rushane Thompson (32nd) and Jaheim Thomas (72nd) were on target for the “Junglists”, who despite being without a few of their regular starters due to red card suspensions, extended their unbeaten run across three games.

The win moved Arnett Gardens up to 14 points in second position, five behind reigning champions and leaders Mount Pleasant, and one ahead of third-placed Tivoli Gardens, who registered a 3-2 win over Treasure Beach in the feature game of the double-header at Stadium East.

This is much to the delight of Gilbert, who was hoping to keep their chasing rivals at bay.

"I am very happy with the way we executed, the table is really tight between second and sixth, so it was important for us to get the three points and inch up the table a little bit. So, it's a welcome one, especially knowing that Tivoli Gardens is also playing and if they win, they are right behind us," Gilbert said in a post-match interview. 

"Another important component was the fact that players stepped up, we try to ensure that we have a balanced squad so when persons miss out, others can bridge the gap, so I am really pleased with the guys that came in and got the job done. That's the mentality that we want, it is something we have been trying to do to ensure everybody is competing for their spot and that is exactly what they are doing," he added.

Arnett dominated from the start, as they were showed more enterprise in their build ups, and also produced some colorful plays in patches. But it wasn’t until two minutes after the half-hour mark that the inevitably found the go-ahead goal when Thompson arrived to finish off Shai Smith’s pass across the face of goal.

Warner Brown almost added a second in the latter stages of the first half, but his right-footed effort on the break, was kept out by the outstretched leg of Roje Williams, in goal for Vere United.

Though they continued to boss possession and created numerous half chances, Arnett Gardens had to wait until late in the second half to extend their lead, when poor defending followed by an error by Williams who left his line, allowed Thomas to finish into an empty net from close range, after Warner Brown's effort came back off the crossbar.

Vere United tried to play and created a few half chances of their own but couldn't make them count, and succumbed to their third defeat of the season, which left them eighth in the standing on eight points.

Vere United's assistant coach Jermaine Douglas was left disappointed.

"We never got off the mark in terms of attack and the second goal that we conceded, we were just getting into the game, we lapsed and got caught on the transition and it was really unfortunate that we conceded at that time. But we weren't productive in the final third and at the end of the day if you're not scoring goals or not being dangerous in front of goal, we can't win games, so we have some mental work to do," Douglas noted.

Matchweek Eight results

Molynes United 0, Lime Hall 0

Montego Bay United 3, Portmore United 2

Mount Pleasant 0, Waterhouse 0

Arnett Gardens 2, Vere United 0

Tivoli Gardens 3, Treasure Beach 2

Harbour View vs Dunbeholden (postponed)

Humble Lion vs Cavalier (postponed)

Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz remain in a tough position to make next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, despite coming from behind to secure a 1-1 stalemate with Panama in their penultimate qualifying fixture at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Marta Cox gave Panama a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot, but that was cancelled out by Shaneil Buckley's 45th minute strike, which ensured the Jamaicans a share of the spoils.

With the point, Panama inched up to seven points and booked their spot in the inaugural women's Gold Cup, while the Jamaicans, who were earning their second point, must beat second-placed Guatemala (four points) on Sunday to get into the Gold Cup prelims.

Though disappointed that they didn't secure all three points on this occasion, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert is backing his team to get by Guatemala on Sunday.

"It was a competitive game, unfortunately things didn't go entirely according to plan, of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to ensure that we didn't lose tonight, that was our first objective.  We are still in with a shot with just have to get the job done against Guatemala, in terms of speed and depth, we have a better unit and so I fancy our chances more against Guatemala," Gilbert said in a post-match interview.

The contest started at a decent tempo with the Jamaicans using their pace and athleticism to exploit the wide channels, as they were more threatening in open play, but were unable to make the most of their half chances.

In the ninth Melissa Johnson broke down the right channel and should have at least tested Yenith Bailey in goal for Panama, but the build-up was undone by indecision.

Nine minutes later, Buckely broke down the right and played a pass inside, and Davia Richards couldn't connect at close range.

Panama patiently played their game and went close in the 28th minute when Cox played a through pass in for Natalia Mills, but Serena Mensah, in goal for Jamaica, left her line well to avert the danger.

However, the visitors were given the opportunity to break the deadlock when Lauren Reid seemingly got ball in a challenge on Mills, but Honduran referee Melissa Borjas Pastrana awarded the penalty, which Cox converted.

The Reggae Girlz probe for the equalizer came on the stroke of half-time when a weighted cross from the left by Malikae Dayes was well finished by Buckley from close range.

Gilbert's side again started purposeful and applied consistent pressure throughout but didn't really put anything meaningful on goal.

In fact, there best effort of the stanza came in the 68th when Njeri Butts cross inside was skipped by captain Chinyelu Asher for Marlo Sweatman, whose shot lacked the power to beat Bailey.

From there, but teams nullified each other, as their search for the winner proved fruitless.

"I don't think we did anything wrong; we just didn't score. We have to score goals to win games and we just didn't get on the scoresheet when we got our chances," Gilbert said, as he also fielded questions about the substitutions.

"We are in a different dynamic from the other teams. They are playing one game and they are finished, while we are playing two games in five days. I know what I am working with, we had to be smart in terms of our approach to each game, so we couldn't be erratic and make a number of substitutions here, I also understand the situation that we are in and we are just going to give it our all on Sunday," he declared.  

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.

Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert will again be without his more established players for the decisive legs of their Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures against Panama and Guatemala on November 29 and December 3.

With the players, who achieved the historic feat of making the Round of 16 at the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year still out, Gilbert has once again assembled a squad filled with more youth than experience where senior international caps are concerned.

In fact, Sashana “Pete” Campbell is the only experienced player called up to join fellow 2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman in the team.

The Girlz, who lost 1-2 away to Panama and were held to a 2-2 stalemate at home by Guatemala, are faced with a must-win situation in the League A encounters, if they are to secure an automatic berth to next year’s Women’s Gold Cup.

They currently sit at the foot of the three-team standing with a point. Panama heads the standings on six points, with Guatemala on four. Should the Girlz fail to top the standings, they would at least need to finish second to have another shot at Gold Cup qualification through a playoff contest against a League B group winner.

With that in mind, expectations were that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the World Cup players –who withdrew their services over lack of payment and general “mistreatment” from the governing football body –would have arrived at an amicable settlement, as it is understood that several meetings were planned.

JFF’s General Secretary Dennis Chung explained that meetings were in fact planned but didn’t materialize.

“We had reached out to them and asked them to specify in writing what the details of the mistreatment they allege are, and also to advise us of two dates they want to meet and who the representatives are from their end to discuss, as per the grievance procedures under the contract, as we want to ensure that we do everything according to contract for the protection of all. We didn’t receive any feedback on proposed dates, so we proposed December 8,” Chung told SportsMax.TV.

“Someone said to us they would speak to the players about meeting earlier (Tuesday), but this was not official communication from the players and there was no confirmation from them. And there is still no response to the December 8 proposal, so we have to wait on the feedback,” he added.

However, SportsMax.TV has been reliably informed that the reason for the Girlz silence is due to the fact that they are still yet to be paid in full.

This is contrary to a JFF release on October 27 which states: “The JFF is pleased to advise that, as committed, we have now paid in full balances due to the Women’s World Cup team.”

A source close to the situation denied the claims.

“The players have not received their money and they want it to be made public,” the source shared.

But Chung rebutted.

“As far as we know we have paid all the monies due. I have heard people say that players are due money still, but no one has come to us and say what is outstanding. So, persons outside can say anything, but I have to go by the records we have. If there is money outstanding, then it should be for the players to state what is outstanding, not for people in the public to say money is outstanding. That is not something anyone can act on,” Chung argued.

“Our focus right now is on the upcoming games, while we wait on the response to the proposed date, as we of course want to understand the allegations of mistreatment so that if it is something we need to address then we ensure that it is dealt with for all our players, current and future,” he noted.

The Girlz will face Panama at the National Stadium next Wednesday, before travelling to lock horns with Guatemala a few days later.

Squad: Lauren Reid, Malikae Dayes, Zoe Vidaurre, Chinyelu Asher, Israela Groves, Ricshya Walker, Marlo Sweatman, Davia Richards, Mikayla Dayes, Shaneil Buckley, Melissa Johnson, Aliyah Morgan, Theanna Burnett, Serena Mensa, Shanice Foster, Destiny Powell, Njeri Butts, Sashana Campbell, Shania Harris, Sydnie Street, Javanae Jones, Lachante Paul, Maliah Atkins.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) on Friday announced that Interim Head Coach of the Senior Women’s National Team, Xavier Gilbert, would remain coach for the Reggae Girlz upcoming Concacaf W Gold Cup qualifiers.

The Girlz will first host Panama on November 29 before taking on Guatemala away on December 3.

Gilbert took over as Interim Head Coach after the departure of Lorne Donaldson with his first two assignments being a pair of Concacaf W Gold Cup qualifiers against the same two teams on October 25 and 29 with a makeshift squad.

They suffered a 1-2 defeat in Panama on the 25th before playing out a 2-2 draw with Guatemala four days later at the National Stadium.

“The JFF commends Xavier (Gilbert) and the Senior Reggae Girlz for the recent performances against Panama and Guatemala and is grateful for their response to the call to represent Jamaica and the JFF with such sterling performances,” said the JFF in a statement on Friday.

“We look forward to the upcoming games and hope that more fans will turn out to lend their support,” the statement ended.

 Panama currently lead the group with six points from their three games, two points ahead of Guatemala in second and five ahead of the Reggae Girlz in third.

Interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is hoping his makeshift team can bounce back quickly to not only take three points off Guatemala, but more importantly, put themselves in a much better position to top the qualifying group on their way to next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

The Girlz, who went down 1-2 away to Panama, are currently at the foot of the three-team Group B in League A of the qualifiers, but a win against Guatemala at the National Stadium on Sunday, would see them back in contention for the coveted top spot.

This, as Panama currently lead with six points from three games, followed by Guatemala with three points from two games, while the Girlz will be contesting their second fixture to be followed by the return leg encounters on November 29 and December 3 respectively.

Sunday’s game is scheduled for 5:00pm.

“I think the ladies can bounce back, but it is going to be a tough encounter similar to what we experienced against Panama. I think the ladies are in a much better place after getting the first game out of the way and we managed to get an extra session in with everybody so that was good,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“The spirits are high, so we just have to come out and execute. As I said before, it is going to be tough, and we are mindful that they (Guatemala) beat Panama before Panama defeated them. We know that they like to shoot from different areas, and I think offensively they are strong, so we just have to nullify their strengths,” he added.

Reflecting on the first game, Gilbert was encouraged by his team’s display for the most part, given the fact that they were pulled together only a few days prior to that game.

In fact, had it not been for an own-goal and a defensive error by Alika Keene in either half of the contest, Gilbert’s makeshift side would have pulled off a highly unexpected win.

“When you look back at the first game against Panama, they really didn’t break us down to score and unfortunately, we didn’t come away with anything because of the own-goal and defensive error. But we have Marlo Sweatman coming in for this game and with her experience in the middle of the park, I think we should give a much better performance on this occasion,” the tactician noted.

Marlo Sweatman, who didn’t make the trip to Panama, joined the team’s training session on Friday. She along with fellow 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup veteran Chinyelu Asher, are expected to do most of the work in the midfield, both from an attacking and defensive perspective.

Sweatman, 28, who currently plays professionally in Hungary, is eager to ply her part in the makeshift Girlz resurgence.

"I am very happy to be here. I have been playing attacking midfield and scoring a lot of goals, and I feel like I am in good form,” she said.

“This is a very young team, and so I will bring in a lot of experience and some leadership, especially in the midfield, as well as off the field, to help them grow as players and as people off the field as well,” Sweatman shared.

A makeshift Senior Reggae Girlz squad will have it all to do when they take on Panama in a Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup Qualification fixture on Wednesday.

The players who were responsible for leading Jamaica to a historic Round of 16 appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year are not part of the group in Panama after withdrawing from selection to protest what they describe as “constant mistreatment” from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Things have been made even more difficult for the travelling squad after a late change in venue due to ongoing protests in Panama City.

New Head Coach of the team, Xavier Gilbert, said the protests have also led to some logistical issues for the Girlz, including a lack of training time.

“We’ve been here from Sunday. We were in another city where there was a protest so it affected us. I must give credit to CONCACAF and the local organizing committee for responding the way they did. They tried to get us out the same time we landed on Sunday which is three hours away from the airport so it was difficult. Then yesterday in the morning we couldn’t move because roads were blocked,” he said.

“The good thing is that it didn’t affect any of the players and for that I must commend the local organizing committee once again. Once they picked up the players. They moved them straight to this hotel here so that was good. They didn’t encounter any delays,” he added before noting the challenge of the late venue change and an inability to train.

“It is challenging because now the venue has changed, the training venue has changed and the game venue changed and we’re still uncertain on some logistics as it relates to time,” he said.

“We’re going to have to do something. It’s not ideal in terms of what we want to do and to have everybody who we want involved but a lot of the players, especially when we travel at youth level, we find ourselves in similar situations so some of them are used to this. We only have a one-hour session before our first game and that includes a warm-up so we just have to try and get in and get out. We’re going to have to do a lot of mental and tactical preparation as it relates to how we want to approach the game,” he added.

In an interview on Tuesday, Gilbert said that about 15 members of the squad had already arrived in Panama with a few more coming.

He added that the absence of 18-year-old Shaniel Buckley, who is currently with the Jamaica team at the Pan Am Games in Chile, will be a big loss for the Girlz.

“We have about 15 players here so far. We’re expecting another couple and then we’ll take it from there. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that we’ll have Shaneil Buckley. She’s at the Pan Am Games and she hasn’t left yet so that’s a huge blow for us,” Gilbert said.

With regular skipper Khadija Shaw among those unavailable, Gilbert says midfielder Chinyelu Asher will Captain the team on Wednesday.

“Chinyelu Asher based on her experience playing at the international level and playing at the World Cup. She’s the most experienced and capped player here and it’s fitting for her to be the leader,” Gilbert said.

The 30-year-old Asher has scored six goals in 29 caps for the Reggae Girlz since her debut in 2015.

Members of Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz FIFA Women’s World Cup squad remain resolute in their latest standoff with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), as they point out that withdrawing from the upcoming Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures was a last resort to “end the cycle of mistreatment” they have endured under the Michael Ricketts-led administration.

The Girlz in a widely circulated statement released via social media on Saturday, said the decision to bypass the October international window for games against Panama and Guatemala, was difficult but necessary, given the circumstances under which they were asked to report for duty.

Those circumstances to which the Girlz refer, include the fact that interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert was appointed late Thursday, a mere four days before the team is expected to arrive in Panama for the October 25 fixture.

Gilbert has since assembled a makeshift squad for that game as well as the October 29 meeting with Guatemala at the National Stadium.

“While this has been one of the hardest decisions we have had to make, we feel it is necessary to make such a drastic stance to put an end to the constant mistreatment we receive from the Jamaica Football Federation,” the statement said.

“As always, it is an honour and a privilege to represent Jamaica. It is our job to perform to the best of our ability and put all our efforts into representing our country, making our fans (and) loved ones at home and in the diaspora proud. Due to the current circumstances the Jamaica Football Federation has put us in, we would not be able to do our job,” they added.

Aside from the alleged short notice, the Girlz again called out the JFF for its “unprofessionalism” and disorganization in the way they communicate and, by extension, manage the country’s football affairs.

This, as contrary to reports that the JFF have paid World Cup money in full between Thursday and Friday, the Girlz reveal that they are yet to receive “full and correct payments” for their historic Round of 16 run at the global showpiece, coupled with “numerous outstanding bonuses” for last year’s qualification.

“We received information about our coaching staff, medical staff and equipment staff in an untimely manner and through unprofessional communication. We got confirmation our head coach three days prior to our report date through social media, despite our efforts to have direct communication with the JFF,” they shared.

“We have dealt with this lack of communication, poor organization, poor management and delayed payments from the JFF time and time again. For these reasons, we take our stance in solidarity with hope to end this cycle of mistreatment,” the Girlz noted.

The Girlz statement came as a direct response to a JFF release on Friday which stated that they have suspend any selection of the players in question until these issues are resolved.

“The JFF is uncomfortable with the response of the players and the non-attendance of the player representatives to a scheduled meeting. The JFF is eager to clear up all the concerns that team members may have in accordance with the contracts. If there is a grievance or concern, this must be placed squarely on the table to be addressed and documented to the JFF,” the country’s governing football body’s release stated.

Having managed to pull a full 23-member squad out of the hat, interim Reggae Girlz Head coach Xavier Gilbert is now cautiously optimistic about their chances of springing another surprise in the upcoming Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures against Panama and Guatemala.

Gilbert, who was appointed late Thursday, skipped his first hurdle by securing the services of a fairly youthful squad, which also includes some out-of-favour experienced players for the games scheduled for October 25 and 29 respectively.

However, the second hurdle remains the fact that Gilbert has a short window to try and achieve some semblance of cohesiveness with his new squad, as they are scheduled to arrive in Panama on Monday and will train on Tuesday, with the game scheduled for Wednesday. They will then return to Jamaica on Thursday to host Guatemala on Sunday.

“Yeah, it is tough, and I always knew it will be a difficult task but that’s the thing with these FIFA windows and how we manage ourselves will be important at the end of the day,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“The good thing for us is that we have individuals who understand and know what we have to focus on. So, it is good that we managed to find persons and it is also an opportunity for the younger players to showcase their talent and secure themselves a spot in future camps to come,” he added.

Gilbert’s squad includes a new call up in 32-year-old England-born Melissa Johnson of Charlton Athletic, while Canadian-born Israela Groves, 24, who is also up to earn her first international cap, was a part of the senior Reggae Girlz training camp in Florida earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup veterans Marlo Sweatman and Chinyelu Asher highlight the more senior players, along with goalkeeper Chris-Ann Chambers, Jayda Hylton-Pelaia, Alika Keene and twins, Malikae and Mikayla Dayes. The remainder of the team comprises mostly Under-20 representatives now transitioning to the senior level.

The coach’s predicament stems from the fact that all 22 members of the successful 2023 World Cup squad have made themselves unavailable, while Cheyna Matthews has retired.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in a release on Friday, announced the suspension of selection for all 22 players until they meet with the federation's hierarchy to resolve all issues regarding payments among other things.

“It is what it is, I can’t control some of the variables, so I just have to control what I can. At this point in time, we managed to assemble a squad and we must give credit to the ladies who have accepted the offer to represent their country on short notice and we just want to build on that,” Gilbert, who is still without an assistant said.

“We have a lot of players who will be earning their first caps so again, it is an opportunity for them to show the world what they have to offer, and we just hope that they will make full use of it. It is going to be difficult against two tough oppositions, but we are hopeful that we can do what we have to, to ensure we get two positive results,” he noted.

Gilbert pointed to the fact that fitness will not be much of a concern with the selected players as his biggest positive as it will allow him to jump straight into technical and tactical work when they arrive in Panama.

“The good thing is that all the players are currently active with their clubs and colleges, that was of some concern, but these players are coming in with games under their belts which is a positive. So again, we just hope that we can get them together as soon as possible and manage to squeeze out some results,” he ended.

Following the opening fixtures, the 37th-ranked Reggae Girlz will then host Panama on November 29 and close away to Guatemala on December 3.

Squad- Chris-Ann Chambers (Dinamo Sokhumi); Javanae Jones (ultnomah University); Lauren Reid (University of Maryland); Malikae Dayes (AAB (Denmark); Zoe Vidaurre (George Mason University); Nevillegail Able (University of Maine at Fort Kent); Chinyelu Asher (SCU Torreense); Alika Keene (SK Slavia Praha Zeny); Israela Groves (London City Lionesses); Ricshya Walker (LaSalle University); Marlo Sweatman (Viktoria Haladas); Christina Salmon (William Carey University); Davia Richards (Hill College); Mikayla Dayes (Rodez AF (France); Shaneil Buckley (Frazsiers Whip); Natoya Atkinson (Seaward County); Destiny Powell (Frazsiers Whip); Melissa Johnson (Charlton Athletic Women FC); Sydnie Street (Seneca College); Jayda Hylton-Pelaia (Woodbridge Strikers); Alliyah Morgan (George Mason University); Shanhaine Nelson (Cavaliers); Tyiesha Nelson (Reinas Academy)

 

 

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