Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan

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

As the battle for top spot in the highly competitive Group A continues, Hydel High positioned themselves well for an ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup second round berth, after coming from behind to edge Calabar High 2-1 at Red Hills Road on Saturday.

Not only did the win propel Hydel ahead of Calabar on goal difference, with both sitting on 12 points behind leaders Kingston College (18 points), but the manner in which it came, added impetus to their ambitions that they can challenge for the title.

Omario Henry (29th) and D’Sean Henry (73rd), with his fifth goal of the season, saw the Ferry-based team –which ended with 10 players after Kailand Smith picked up a second yellow in the 56th minute –to the points. Isaac Clarke (15th) gave Calabar an early lead.

Winning coach Devon Anderson was delighted by the grit and character demonstrated by his team.

“It was a hard-fought game, we went down to 10 players, but we didn’t panic because I know the ability of the kids and I know we could have pulled it off. We started the season with a goal to win the Manning Cup and no matter how difficult it seems that goal hasn’t changed, but we take it one game at a time,” Anderson said in a post-match interview.

Despite falling behind when Clarke’s shot from a distance somehow eluded the goalkeeper, Hydel continued to show purpose and eventually found the equalizer when D’Sean Henry broke down the right channel and played a cross in for Omario Henry to finish.

The score remained unchanged at the break and Calabar, like they did at the start, were more spirited on the resumption and seemed well poised for victory when Smith was given marching orders.

However, the Red Hills Road boys failed to make the numerical advantage count on home soil and later paid the price when D’Sean Henry on the break, lobbed a left-footed effort over the head of the advancing keeper, who left his line and was caught in no man’s land.

Try as they did, Calabar couldn’t find the elusive equalizer which left their Head coach Andrew Price, somewhat disappointed.

“I think we gave up an opportunity to collect all three points, the game was decided on a goalkeeping error, but these are young players so they will learn. We are not going burden them with too much pressure we just have the get it right the next time. I think we gave as much as we got from this Hydel team so, all in all, it was a good game and it will serve us well for the rest of the season,” Price shared.

Saturday’s results

Calabar 1, Hydel 2

Jose Marti 0, Campion College 1

Waterford 0, St George’s College 3

Ascot High 0, St Jago 4

Former Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Tony James says the recent move to cut Lorne Donaldson from the Reggae Girlz programme, could prove the final nail in the coffin of the Michael Ricketts-led administration, as he believes their chances of retaining leadership of the country’s football were already slim.

James –like many football enthusiasts at home and abroad –has always been critical of Ricketts’s leadership and even felt he should have relinquished the post last year when the senior Reggae Boyz players called for the scalp of then general secretary Dalton Wint.  

At that point, James said Ricketts lacked the requisite acumen to continue leading the sport’s local governing body, as he failed to accept responsibility for the chaos that has unfolded in Jamaica’s football over the past few years with players and some coaches consistently expressing discontent at the constant “lack of respect, transparency and communication” from the JFF hierarchy.

Now thrown in the spotlight once again with the non-renewal of Donaldson’s contract, and the elections due by year end, James thinks it might just result in Ricketts and administration’s demise.

Donaldson, who was appointed in 2022, led the Reggae Girlz to a second-consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup. At the tournament jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, they had an historic run to the round of 16, after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 0-1 loss to Colombia.

In their most recent fixtures, the Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but the progress the team has made under Donaldson’s leadership is without question.

“The upcoming election is the exact reason why that decision with Lorne is poor. If you have an election in a couple of weeks, why are you going to make a move like this.

“You have a lame duck presidency and administration why are you going to take on a massive investment for a national women’s coach when JFF is still in restrictive financing, why would you want to do that now. So that decision is a matter of bad timing,” James said in a recent interview with Sportsmax.tv.

By virtue of hiring a new coach, James argues that the Reggae Girlz programme will be unnecessarily reset, when there are other areas of the country’s football that needs more attention.

“The schoolboy football needs to be reset, the academy programme needs to be reset and the parishes, the most important on the agenda heading into the elections, have to be reset,” he asserted.

For the upcoming elections, Ricketts, who has been in power since 2017, will be challenged by current vice-president Raymond Anderson.

Anderson, who has served in previous administrations has the likes of former Cricket West Indies President Dave Cameron, Marketing Strategist Cecile Dennis, Kingston and St Andrew Football Association President Mark Bennett and St Thomas Football Association President Wayne Thompson, on his campaign team.

Last year's changes to the JFF's constitutional reform will result in an increase in delegates from 13 –previously consisted solely of parish confederation presidents –to 56, comprising more stakeholders.

James also took issues with those changes.

“Everything seems to be wrong structurally about what they are doing. The election of the parishes comes three months after the JFF elections, and what exist now is a corrupt construct, you can’t have a corrupt construct electing a president and a new board for a four-year term. You should have the election for the parishes first and then out of that election you elect a new JFF board,” James opined.

“The thing is that when you have a corrupt construct that exist in the JFF, the majority of people that are going to vote are people you have to appeal to, to vote for you. So, if you accept the fact that the parishes, especially the rural parishes, some of them are extremely weak and extremely poor in their structure, you have to correct that first or at least attempt to correct that.

“But they are going for votes rather to correct the structure and if the structure is not corrected no matter who gets there (the presidency) then it won’t make a difference. Because you're trying to get football moving forward and get football resilient which means you have to always be moving forward without moving back. Instead, what has been happening now is that you take two steps forward one step back you need everybody in the same boat moving in the same direction,” he ended.

The group stage of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup came to an exciting conclusion on Thursday night.

There were many excellent individual performances over the course of the group stage, yet these 11 players stood out the most at their respective positions.

Goalkeeper  

Jonathan Fonkel, Robinhood – Robinhood captured the top spot in Group B thanks in part to the efforts of Fonkel, who conceded just four goals while making 23 saves and 19 clearances.

Defenders  

Manuel Vidal, Moca – Vidal played a big role in Moca marching forward to the semifinals by making seven steals and nine clearances, plus scoring a goal.

Alierio Belfor, Robinhood – Sixteen clearances and six steals from Belfor was one of the many reasons why 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield winners Robinhood surged to a first-place finish in their group.

Justin Garcia, Defence Force – Garcia was one of the best passing defenders in the group stage, completing 92 percent of his passes while making eight steals and 10 clearances.

Midfielders

Clifford Thomas, Moca – Thomas was one of the anchors in the Moca midfield with seven steals while completing more than 90 percent of his passes.

Jalmaro Calvin, Cavalier – Calvin was seemingly everywhere for Cavalier. He scored two goals and chipped in three assists on the attacking end, and had a clearance and a steal on the defensive end.

Reon Moore, Defence Force – Moore performed at a high level in every match and finished with two goals, an assist and a steal.

Renske Adipi, Robinhood – Robinhood were in good hands with Adipi in midfield, evidenced by him completing 80 percent of his passes, scoring a goal and making four steals.

Forwards 

Shaquiel Bradford, Harbour View – Bradford wreaked havoc on defenses in the group stage and finished the four games with three goals and an assist.

Shaquille Cairo, Robinhood – The top scorer in the Shield with 10 goals followed that effort up with a five-goal haul in the Caribbean Cup group stage for Robinhood. He also had two steals.

Shaniel Thomas, Cavalier – Simply put; Thomas was breathtaking for Cavalier. He twice notched hat tricks during the team’s four games to help him finish with a tournament-leading seven goals. Defensively he helped, too, with three steals.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson says qualifying for next year’s Copa America is of utmost significance for the staff to properly polish the team’s playing style, as he again stressed the need for consistent improvement to drive their 2026 FIFA World Cup ambitions.

“I think we can, as a national team, improve a lot of areas. The JFF as well, I think can do a lot more, but we are closer to what the best national teams are doing. Playing style, I think we are getting there slowly, but in order to improve our playing style we have to work with the same players.

“So, I think we have found a core of players that we think we can continue working with and then we can develop a playing style,” Hallgrimsson declared during a press conference at the Jamaica Football Federation’s offices on Friday.  

Hallgrimsson’s sentiments came on Friday as he announced the addition of Charlton Athletic pair Karoy Anderson and Michael Hector to his 23-member Reggae Boyz squad for their upcoming Concacaf Nations League fixtures away to Grenada and Haiti on October 12 and 15, respectively.

London-Born midfielder, Anderson, 19, is a first-time call up, while Hector, 31, returns to the setup after an almost two-year absence.

Both, along with goalkeeper Kemar Foster, Dexter Lembikisa, and West Ham United’s Michail Antonio, replace goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke midfielder Kasey Palmer, forward Dujuan Richards and defenders Amari’i Bell and Ethan Pinnock, who all miss out due to injuries among other reasons.

“We cannot develop a playing style picking 12 new players every camp because then we would have to start over. Being a national team coach, we know that there are two training in a game, so there is not a lot of time to get the team on the pitch. So, in that case, I think we are doing well with the time, but again, if we want to continue to grow it is important to go to finals and go to Copa America and spend a month with the team to grow on and off the pitch,” Hallgrimsson shared.

The 56th-ranked Jamaicans, who bettered Honduras 1-0 and came-from-behind for a 2-2 stalemate with Haiti, both at the National Stadium, currently sit atop Group B in League A on four points, same as second-placed Cuba.

Victories in both games, would guarantee Hallgrimsson’s side a spot in next month’s quarter-final where they would face Canada or Costa Rica, provided Cuba does not surpass them on goal difference, should they too win their two encounters.

If the Boyz were to finish in the runners-up position, they would have United States or Mexico to contend with in their hunt for a Copa America berth. The 48th edition of the quadrennial international men's tournament is scheduled for June 20 to July 14, in the United States and will act as a prelude to the 2026 World Cup, also to be hosted in North America.

“We have a lot to improve on and we know that so now going for these tricky away matches, it's going to be a tough, tough task. To get into the quarterfinal is important for so many reasons because if we win that game, it will secure us to place in the semi-final and hopefully from there we will get to the final and that gives us the right to play Copa America next summer,” the tactician stated.

“So, for many reasons this is important for our team. Number one, to grow to play in tournaments that really will test us to play against the best teams. So, it is an important step for developing a good team to qualify for the World Cup in 2026. We want to put all our emphasis on this camp coming up and go for six points to finish top of the group,” he added.

“We have quite a few versatile players in the squad, and I think that is a benefit to a small nation like Jamaica. So, in our minds I think we have solutions to the problems, and we decided to go for a young player [Anderson] to look at this camp to see how we can manage him within the players group we have,” Hallgrimsson ended.

Squad: Andre Blake, Kemar Foster, Jahmali Waite, Javain Brown, Tayvon Gray, Di’Shon Bernard, Michael Hector, Greg Leigh, Adrian Mariappa, Damion Lowe, Dexter Lembikisa, Bobby Decordova Reid, Daniel Johnson, Joel Latibeaudiere, Kevon Lambert, Karoy Anderson, Demario Phillips, Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, Demarai Gray, Shamar Nicholson, Romario Williams, Renaldo Cephas

 

As the local sporting fraternity continues to grapple with news of the tragic slaying of national cricket manager Gibbs Williams, Paul Beckford and Davion Ferguson are already reflecting on the life and impact the prominent son of the soil had on many.

Williams, who was also a vice principal at GC Foster College of Physical Education and Sport in St Catherine, was gunned down on Friday afternoon at the compound of a medical facility in Portmore.

It is reported that Williams was called outside of the medical facility and shot by unknown assailants. He was later rushed to the Spanish Town Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

A former Cricket Coach at Waterford High School, and Wolmer’s Boys School, Williams unearthed the talent of Jermaine Lawson.  He served the JCA as manager of the Under-19 cricket team and also as Physical Trainer.

Williams was the manager of the Jamaica Under-19 team, that recently won the double Regional U-19 Championship, and also served as the manager for the just-concluded West Indies Under-19 team tour to Sri Lanka.

Beckford, another vice principal at the Angels-based institution explained that a pall of gloom permeated the atmosphere as students and teachers alike, are still coming to terms with the situation.

“It is very somber, as we speak, we are doing some counselling to try and see how best we can help each other through this difficult period. I can’t find the words to express how great a loss it is, especially knowing that I spoke to him earlier because he was at work and then left to go to the doctor,” Beckford told Sportsmax.tv.

He recollected Williams’s dedication to his craft as both a lecturer and cricket manager, as well as his commitment to guiding those under his tutelage.

“Just think about somebody who motivates and instills discipline. In everything he always wants to help young people and pushes them to get the best of them. Everything that an educator or a parent would want from those under their care, that is the kind of person he was,” Beckford shared.

“We don’t really know what happened, if we were to say anything now it would just be speculating but he doesn’t deserve this and only God knows and we only hope that whoever it was will come forward,” he added.

Ferguson, a former student and assistant coach of GC Foster College, recalled how he and Williams met through their mutual acquaintance with the now-deceased Glenston Hutchinson.

The Jamaica College Head coach, like Beckford, spoke highly of Williams, who was affectionately known as “Gibbo”.

“I am not usual lost for words but right now it is hard to comprehend. Gibbo was more than a lecturer, he was a role model, a father figure, he motivated everyone and generally had a positive impact on those he came in contact with. It really hits hard and both GC Foster and the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has lost a monumental figure,” Ferguson said.

“He was my lecturer in college plus he was very close friends with Hutchinson, so we grew into a friendship, and he would always see me and say, ‘boy coach “Hutchie” would be proud, and I am also proud of your achievements.’ So, he played a huge role in my upbringing from my time at GC Foster.

“Nobody really knows what happened, but no matter what the situation is, I don’t think any human being deserves to have their life taken and certainly not Gibbo, who had such a big heart and looked out for others,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Jamaica Athletics Administrative in sending condolence to the GC Foster College community, expressed shock and sorrow at Williams’s untimely passing.

“Mr. Williams was not just a dedicated educator but also a pillar of strength within your institution. His unwavering commitment to the betterment of students, his tireless efforts in promoting physical education and sports, and his genuine care for the welfare of the school community were truly remarkable,” the JAAA release said.

“In times like these, it is difficult to find words that adequately express the depth of our sympathy. We share in your grief and stand by your side as you mourn this profound loss. Mr. Williams’s contributions to the college and the lives he touched will be remembered with great respect and fondness,” the statement added.

The Jamaica Cricket Association was also saddened by the tragic situation.

“Gibbo was passionate, enthusiastic and a tireless servant of cricket. We pray that his soul is judged with mercy,” the JCA release stated.

As the dust continues to settle on the Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) controversial non-renewal of Lorne Donaldson’s contract to head the Reggae Girlz programme, former JFF president Tony James believes the outcome could have been different had both parties tempered their egos.

James is of the view that neither the Michael Ricketts-led JFF, represented by general secretary Dennis Chung, nor Donaldson really considered the bigger picture, which was to place the Reggae Girlz and their progress at the forefront of the decision-making process to arrive at a more amicable settlement.  

In fact, while noting that Donaldson’s outspoken personality may have led to his ousting, James was by no means reserved in his criticism of the JFF, especially given the Girlz overwhelming success under the outgoing coach’s leadership.

 “No responsible organization is going to have its employees in the public making negative comments about the federation. The JFF has the authority to run football in Jamaica and there can be no questions about that and then there is the case of everybody having an ego which is not such a bad thing,” James remarked.

“The issue is that when you are excessive then you have a problem, so the ego has to be balanced. I am not approving one side; both sides needed to temper their ego and place the Girlz at the centre of their issues. Everybody is on a tangent and once you put the Girlz at the centre and they (JFF) apply good governance principles, I don’t think you would have had the same result,” he told Sportsmax.tv.

James argued that the national development of football should always be of utmost priority for the JFF hierarchy and its Technical Committee, despite personal feelings.

As such, he believes the decision to cut the country’s most successful coach, should have been discussed with certain stakeholders, to include women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley, who has significantly invested in the programme.

It was Marley, who first introduced Donaldson and former Head coach Hue Menzies to the Reggae Girlz programme in 2015, and the two led the country to an historic first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in France in 2019.

However, after Menzies departed the programme in late 2019, Donaldson followed suit a few months later, but was reappointed in June 2022, to replace Vinimore “Vin” Blaine, who was forced to resign a few months into his tenure after the players expressed their displeasure with his leadership in a scathing letter.

Like he did in 2019, Donaldson again led the Reggae Girlz to the World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, where they had an historic run to the round of 16, after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 0-1 loss to Colombia.

In their most recent fixtures, the Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but the progress the team has made under Donaldson’s leadership is without question.

“You can’t take sides, you have to look on every stakeholder and see what they are bringing to the table and if you have good governance principles then you should discuss it with at least the major stakeholders.

“Cedella Marley is a major stakeholder, have they discussed it with Cedella Marley?” James questioned.

“And in all this the Girlz should be the front of the equation, there are representatives of the Girlz who are very vocal and very focused, you should have called them in and say ‘listen, here is our position. What is your view because I am sure they are going to get a view that is not in agreement with that decision by the JFF,” James continued.

The former football boss also took issue with the JFF’s widely circulated release stating that the decision to part ways was with Donaldson was mutual, as the coach refuted the claims and revealed that the meeting with Chung and JFF’s Human Resource Manager Suzie George-Gayle, lasted a mere five minutes.

The JFF statement said, “after an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed.”

James said this again called the JFF’s character into question.

“And again, that is against governance principles. Discussion and respect are a part of good governance principles, so a five-minute thing, I don’t know what you call that, it is just disrespectful,” he opined.

“If the context of what the man [Donaldson] said is true, the press release emanating from that is also false then, because it said that they were in agreement. So, once it says that, and you bring false into it, then it doesn’t put JFF in a good light because there are other things people are going to assume are false,” James noted.

Upon reflection, James recalled the fact that Donaldson was not the initial first choice for the JFF from the onset.

It was Englishman Jonathan Morgan, who found favour with the JFF Technical Committee. However, Morgan later received an offer from Burnley Women’s team and opted out of the race for the Girlz top job, which resulted in Donaldson taking the reins.

“I think that is what is ticking off the JFF, the fact that coach Lorne Donaldson was not selected by them. So, what is embarrassing to the Technical Committee is that they chose someone [Morgan] and Cedella Marley chose a different person [Donaldson] and that person has worked miracles,” James reasoned.

“So, people should be willing to eat humble pie in the context of national importance given the success and progress made in that (World Cup) campaign and say alright let us look at it (Donaldson’s contract) again.

“From there, they could then lay down the plan, not only to Lorne, but to everybody in the national programme that you have to seek permission to speak on certain matters and if you don’t follow the guideline, you will be severely sanctioned,” he explained.

“But the thing with the Girlz programme is that you don’t know who has the authority to speak because you don’t hear anything from anybody else. So, I am not sure who is making the decision for the JFF, if it is the Technical Committee or the Board of Directors, nobody really knows, so apparently all legislation is left to this fellow [Chung],” James ended.

Things may not have gone exactly how Barbados artistic gymnasts Olivia "Storm' Kelly and Anya Pilgrim would have hoped, but both still had some significant positives to boast from their FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Antwerp, Belgium.

An historic Olympic Games qualification was the main target for the American-based Kelly and Pilgrim, and though they came up short in that regards, both took heart from their respective performances on Monday. 

Pilgrim, who was making her World Championships debut, welcomed the fact that she was able to overcome certain obstacles among the minor successes worth celebrating.

She tallied 46.500 All-Around, with scores of 13.100 on vault, 10.700 on uneven bars, 11.300 on the balance beam and 11.400 on her floor routine. 

"I wholly enjoyed the experience. I hit all of my routines this time, even the skill that has been gave me some trouble at PanAms. So even though I did not have much preparation, I was able to do well, and I am happy with the outcome and the support I got from family and others on the island which makes me even prouder," Pilgrim told SportsMax.tv.

"I believe my score was an improvement from PanAms but of course the judging is much tighter at an event like World Championships. So, again, I am delighted that I was able to hit my beam routine which has been my troublesome event after my injury last year," the Jenny Rowland-coached gymnast added.

Given the fact that her inclusion in the Championships was somewhat last minute, the 18-year-old Pilgrim says her performance speaks volumes of her scope for improvement. 

She pointed out that it will serve as a springboard for her to attain other goals and ambitions she has set for the season, particularly with her University of Florida team.

 "I am just going to soak up the atmosphere here in Belgium while I reflect on the experience before returning to Florida to resume training for my NCAA season. This season, the goal, of course, would be to win a National Championship with my team, and achieve some personal bests of my own," she declared.

"And since I had to prepare my routines so early, I now have built up my endurance and stamina to complete routines on each event way before my season which will help me a lot. So now I can focus more on the details," Pilgrim shared. 

For Kelly, it was her second appearance on the World Championships stage, and she beamed about the prospects, as she also expressed delight about improvements from last year's outing.

The 17-year-old, coached by Ashley Umberger, had scores of 13.200 on vault, 11.666 on uneven bars, 11.933 on the balance beam and 11.700 on her floor routine for an All-Around total of 48.499 for 75th overall. She rose three places higher than the 78th position she achieved last year.

"They took the top 14 girls, who are not on a team and the girl that placed 14th has a 49.965 and I finished with a 48.499 which means I basically just missed out. But even though I didn’t qualify here at Worlds, there are a few other opportunities I can use to qualify, but that depends on if Barbados will send me," Kelly explained. 

"The experience was amazing overall. I’m not exactly sure what the plan is now, but if those opportunities are presented to me by Barbados, I will take them gladly. If not, I remain contented with how my elite season ended this year and I’m excited to start my new chapter in college next summer," she noted.

Outgoing senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson stopped just short of saying he is the victim of a personal vendetta waged against him by Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) General Secretary Dennis Chung, as he refuted claims about how discussions to cut ties, transpired.

Donaldson in response to a widely circulated release by the JFF, pointed out that the decision not to renew his contract was by no means mutual, as the meeting with Chung and JFF’s Human Resource Manager Suzie George-Gayle, lasted a mere five minutes.

The JFF in its statement said, “after an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed.”

But Donaldson in an interview with Sportsmax.tv, rubbished the claims.

 “He [Chung] said they are terminating me. There was no discussion. In a five-minute meeting, he just said congrats on everything and the next thing was, ‘we will not renew your contract.’ There was no reason why, or anything, he just said, we will not renew your contract,” he shared.

Donaldson, along with former Head coach Hue Menzies, was first introduced to the Reggae Girlz programme by women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley in 2015 and led the country to an historic first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in France in 2019.

However, after departing the programme in 2020, following the steps of Menzies, who left earlier in 2019, Donaldson was reappointed in June 2022, to replace Vinimore “Vin” Blaine, who was forced to resign a few months into his tenure, after the Girlz expressed their displeasure with his leadership in a scathing letter.

Like he did in 2019, Donaldson again led the Reggae Girlz to the World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, where they had an historic run to the round of 16, after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 0-1 loss to Colombia.

In their most recent fixtures, the Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but the progress the team has made under Donaldson’s leadership is without question.

The tactician doesn’t believe he was judged on that basis.

“Another thing he said is that if they had done well with the Olympic qualifiers, we (the coaching staff) would have carried on. You don’t want to work in a condition where you are being judged based on one game and not your body of work. So, I guess what happened at the World Cup didn’t matter and it never really had anything to do with football,” Donaldson opined.

“It’s because I disagreed with the way they want to treat players and coaches, and I defended the Girlz. They have been waiting for the opportunity to do this (get rid of me) because they have been trying to do this from June,” he added.

The outspoken coach recalled a conversation in which he and Chung didn’t see eye-to-eye and he believes it was from that point that their relationship spiralled.

“From day one when he said women’s football will never catch on in Jamaica and people will never support women’s football, and I told him he is wrong, I realised the relationship has been topsy-turvy since then,” Donaldson revealed.

He continued: “He said nobody cares about women’s football in Jamaica and it doesn’t matter how bad the men’s team is, the men will get more support than the women. That was when we were trying to go to Australia for the (Cup of Nations) tournament and from that day I knew we are always going to be fighting for these Girlz because it revealed to me that they really don’t care about the Girlz.

“He was trying to justify why we shouldn’t have gone to the tournament in Australia, all because they were spending a little money, even though Australia was spending some money as well. And then he came up with these ridiculous flight prices and I said no, it is way less than that. And from February on, he was total against everything that we were doing.”

Despite sensing Chung’s perceived dislike, Donaldson explained that it was his duty as Head coach to remain resolute in his fight for the players, who sometimes felt disheartened by the show of support, or lack thereof, from the country’s governing football body in particular.

“We had to stand up for the Girlz and I stick to that. When they are right, we fought for them and when they were wrong, I told them. And then we had to make sure they had the resources that we can have them perform,” Donaldson said.

“It showed the other day when we didn’t have the proper equipment for them to train. There was no equipment on the first day of camp and stuff like that affected the Girlz because they didn’t feel the love. They kept saying people didn’t care.

“They just went to a World Cup and see all around the world how everybody (other countries) is speaking glowingly of their team, and they come to Jamaica and can’t even get the proper equipment,” he reasoned.

That said, Donaldson wished the JFF and Reggae Girlz well on their future endeavours, starting with the upcoming Concacaf Women's Gold Cup qualifying matches against Panama and Guatemala, next month.

“The JFF, whatever they have planned for the Girlz, I hope they are successful with it, and I wish them all the best from the bottom of my heart. They made a decision, and I am fine with that,” he declared.

“We have a great group of players that are going to come in, and what we have achieved is basically a scratch on the surface because the sky is the limit with this group of Girlz,” Donaldson ended.

Meanwhile, Chung when contacted about the allegations, was reluctant to address what transpired during the meeting.

“I don’t want to comment on those decisions (made during the meeting), I don’t know where those comments are coming from, but from an ethical point of view, I’m just not going to comment on it. We issued a release, and the release speaks for itself,” Chung told Sportsmax.tv.

However, he admitted to an extent that the February conversation in Montego Bay did happen, but not exactly how it was stated by Donaldson.

“I never said that people don’t care about women’s football, I don’t know where that is coming from. What I have said in the past is that no matter how well the women do, it seems like people tend to support the men more in terms of attendance at matches and that is something that has been said internationally. So, I was just echoing it because someone said it on a sports programme I was listening to,” Chung explained.

 “It is an unfortunate comment that he made, but I didn’t listen to it, because the fact is that the JFF has spent a lot more money on the women’s programme than the men’s programme and in terms of resourcing it, has given it equal footing, if not more.

“So, it’s a very unfortunate comment if that was said because when you talk about sponsorship, most of the sponsors have come in for the women’s programme, so that was very unfortunate,” he argued.

When asked about the possible timeline for Donaldson’s replacement given the significance of the upcoming fixtures, Chung said information should be forthcoming by Monday.

 “We are working to ensure that a team is in place so I’m sure that by Monday we will have that sorted in terms of what we are doing. So, something is being worked on and the JFF will communicate that,” Chung noted.

The stage is set, and Olivia “Storm” Kelly is raring to go with hopes that she will produce something special, on this her second appearance at the FIG Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.

It is a moment the Barbadian gymnast has worked hard for all season, and as the September 30 to October 8 championships fast approaches, an Olympic Games berth which is among the spoils, is very much weighing on her mind.

Simply put, Kelly has her sight set on becoming the first gymnast to represent the Eastern Caribbean Island at the global multi-sport showpiece, and achieving such a feat would not only be a dream come true but would most certainly propel her budding career to higher heights.

While the expectations may be lofty, they are by no means impossible and given the experience gained from last year's championships, Kelly believes she is well positioned to prove more competitive on this occasion.

But for now, the 17-year-old is basking in the culture and scenery of Antwerp, a port city on Belgium's River Scheldt, almost like a calm before the proverbial storm.

"Belgium is so beautiful. So far, I’ve been able to walk around Antwerp a little to enjoy the scenery and there is just so much to do. The lifestyle here is very admirable and the food and people are incredible.

"I’ve adjusted pretty well to the six-hour time difference and have also been in training which has been going well since I arrived. So I am just making the most of the time before I jump into competition which I am really looking forward to," Kelly told SportsMax.tv from her base in Belgium.

One key component for the American-based Kelly is the fact that she will have compatriot Anya Pilgrim competing alongside her on this occasion, and that has not only added to her excitement, but more importantly, offers a slight boost in confidence.

The American-born Pilgrim, another talented gymnast, was a late call-up for the Championships after a qualified athlete opted not to take up their spot.

"Having Anya here has definitely made me more excited. It’s great to have another athlete/friend with me who is going through the exact same situation I am, as we are both seeking to be the first to gymnast to qualify and, by extension represent Barbados the Olympic Games," Kelly shared.

That said, Kelly pointed out that they have not only fed off each other’s energy building back up strength and endurance, while adding elements to increase their difficulty scores, but most importantly, ensuring they are both mentally and physically ready to rise to the occasion.

"Both of us are doing pretty well mentally and physically and are extremely excited to compete. Since it’s my second time at Worlds, I feel like I really know what I’m doing this time and I’m excited to explore this gorgeous place and compete for Barbados," she noted.

Beyond the excitement –which is understandable for any athlete returning on what is the biggest stage of her career at present –there is a serious side to Kelly, and she is focused on ensuring her performance quality and the details of her routine are on point.

"Making it to the Olympics would mean so much to me. Ever since I started competing in Gymnastics it’s been my long-term goal. For a while I gave up on that dream thinking it was impossible. But now, I’m just so grateful to have even made it this far and have the opportunity to live out my dream," the bubbly athlete ended.

 

With their Concacaf Olympic qualifying chapter now closed, as they failed to rewrite the history books, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz and coaching staff will not only have to pick up the pieces, but also come up with new ideas to ensure the programme's continued progress, as they now shift focus to the Gold Cup qualifying campaign.

The Girlz, who were seeking to become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games, suffered a 1-4 aggregate defeat to reigning Olympic champions Canada after 0-2 and 1-2 losses across the two-leg home-and-away playoff.

Those victories ensured Canada the second automatic spot for both the Olympic Games and Gold Cup respectively, joining United States, who were already qualified by virtue of topping last year's Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. 

For the Girlz it is back to the proverbial drawing board with much to contemplate, as their defence, particularly on the left, and midfield in the playoff fixtures, were a shadow of what it was when they held Brazil and France to goalless stalemates at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia.

While they are expecting the Girlz to bounce back against Panama and Guatemala next month, assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says it is hard for the coaching staff to really think too far ahead, as uncertainty surrounds the renewal of their contracts which expire on Saturday. 

"It's difficult to say what our plans are going forward. Our contract ends on the 30th of September, and we are yet to hear anything from the Jamaica Football Federation, so we don't know what will happen after this. We don't know if we will be the staff in charge of the unit, but it's still a good unit and I think they are going to do well against those opposition next month regardless," Gilbert told SportsMax.tv.

Reflecting on the performances against Canada, Gilbert, though admitting their shortcomings in certain areas, credited the Girlz for the fight shown, particularly in Tuesday's second-leg at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto. 

"I think the performance wasn't bad. We wanted to score at least one before the half-time break and we got that go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, we conceded, and I think that set us back again, but it was a good effort, and it just goes to show how much we are growing in the region and on the world stage.

"So, I have to give the Girlz credit, they held their own in a hostile environment…yes, there were some lapses in concentration and there was an overload on the left side again and when you make certain errors you pay the price, especially against quality opposition and that's what happened last night," Gilbert reasoned.

"I don't think the issue is only at the left back because we know what they (Canada) were doing and we should have prevented that. The Canadian team did well the way they pulled our left back out and exploited the spaces behind. But we have to give more help and support in in that area and then we also have to be a little bit more positive on that side too, so that we can push the overlap and get forward more often," he added.

On that note, Gilbert revealed that the players accepted responsibility for the lukewarm performance and, by extension, not being able to give the country something more to celebrate.

“They are disappointed because they really wanted to make the country proud. Some of them even broke down in tears after the game, but we just have to pick ourselves up and go again,” Gilbert shared.

He continued: “Like I said, we did well in terms of where we are on the world stage right now because playing against Canada, everybody would have expected at least 4-0, as those are the defeats that we used to get against these oppositions. So I believe we are now closing the gap and things are changing and those are the positives that we have to take from this.

“We are getting closer and closer because again, no one would have thought, even years gone by and probably even now, that we would have been so competitive against Canada, who are the defending Olympic champions, so let’s not forget that.”

Finally, Gilbert pointed out that should the Lorne Donaldson-led remain in charge of the programme, they will be aiming to add more players to the pool, to not only remedy their defensive and midfield concerns, but also to ensure continuity.

“For sure, we want to continue on the same path widen the pool of players, especially in certain areas that we think we need it and continue to give other players opportunities so that we can have a wider pool to select from and make it more competitive in every position,” he ended.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz battled bravely, but were unable to deny Canada, who registered a 2-1 scoreline in second-leg action of the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying playoff, on their return home at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto, on Tuesday.

Unlike the first leg at Jamaica’s National Stadium where they were easy 2-0 winners, Canada, the reigning Olympic champions, came from behind on this occasion, to wrap up a 4-1 aggregate win and join United States as the confederation’s representatives in next year’s Paris Games.

Cloe Lacasse (39th) and substitute Jordyn Huitema (50th), did the damage for Bev Priestman’s side, after Drew Spence’s 33rd-minute strike offered Lorne Donaldson and his Reggae Girlz a glimmer of hope.

While Canada, by virtue of the win, also confirmed the second automatic spot in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, the Jamaicans will have to quickly regain their confidence for meetings with Panama and Guatemala next month, which represents their opportunity to secure Gold Cup qualification.

Tuesday’s task for was always expected to be a difficult one for the Reggae Girlz, as Canada, playing at home for the first time in over a year, were brimming with confidence on the back of a two-goal advantage from the first leg.

Though Donaldson ringed in the changes, five to be exact, with talismanic striker Khadija "Bunny" Shaw and Jody Brown, out with injuries, it meant little to the Canadians, who went about business in a no-nonsense manner.

They required only two minutes to fire the first warning shot, as Adriana Leon unleashed from just outside the 18-yard box, but the effort was swallowed up by Rebecca Spencer, who produced another workmanlike performance in goal for Jamaica.

As Canada continued to show enterprise and mounted early pressure, the Reggae Girlz held their own defensively, as they ensured the opponent’s hunt for goals turned out fruitless at that point.

In fact, the Jamaicans were not without hope on the attacking front, and it was one of their occasional push forward that resulted in the opening goal.

Atlanta Primus’s initial effort from a distance was handled at the top of the arc by a defender and it was left for Spence to step up and convert a delightful free kick beating Kailen Sheridan diving full stretch to her right.

Canada launched a series of attacks in their probe for the equalizer and almost pulled level in the 35th, as a corner kick taken by Leon was headed on by Deneisha Blackwood. Fortunately for the Jamaican left-back, the crossbar was in the way.

The host again went close when Ashley Lawrence drove a stinging right-footer from a distance that Spencer tipped unto the crossbar and Primus, who dropped back to assist with defending, forced the ball out for a corner.

Leon served up a perfectly weighted delivery from the resulting corner and Lacasse rose above her markers to head home from close range to make it 1-1 heading into the break.

Though the Reggae Girlz were chasing the game, the manner in which they came out on the resumption said otherwise.

As such, their hopes of mounting a comeback were dented five minutes in, when Blackwood’s unforced error, allowed Lawrence to float a cross in for unmarked substitute Huitema to nod home.

Canada should have added another in the 62nd as another defensive error by captain Allyson Swaby, allowed another substitute, Christine Sinclair through on goal, but the legendary striker failed to add to her 190-goal tally, as her effort went straight at Spencer.

In the 72nd, Sinclair again found space in the 18-yard box for a right-footer that went just wide of the left upright.

The Girlz tried to play their game but were unable to cause any real problems in the attacking third. Instead, it was Canada, who asserted authority in the latter stages, and it took another big save from Spencer, who left her line well, to deny 19-year-old substitute Olivia Smith in time added.

November 30, 2022 is forever etched in Anya Pilgrim's mind. It is one of the scariest days of her life and a day when all her fears and thoughts will always weigh heavily on her heart.

On that fateful day, Pilgrim, while preparing to represent University of Florida in Artistic Gymnastics, suffered a freak accident, which derailed her career progress, as she took her time to recover.

Now almost one year on, the American-born Pilgrim, who represents Barbados, has not only grown stronger, but is also one who takes her life and sport seriously, as her unwavering commitment to fulfilling a passion she always dreamed of, is clear for all to see.

"This past season had some ups and downs. At the beginning of the season after signing to the University of Florida, I had fell and landed on my neck and was out of the gym for about six weeks and had to recover from a concussion. It was not an easy road. I had to overcome my fears of injury to be able to even step back into the sport," Pilgrim told SportsMax.tv.

"Luckily I did, and only a week after I started training again, I decided to compete at my next competition where I achieved my personal best score of a 9.95 on the vault. So, these highs and lows have taught me that I am strong enough and more than capable of rise above any circumstances and come out successful," she added.

Pilgrim, who previously represented the United States national team in 2019, qualified to represent Barbados through her grandparents, who not only instilled life lessons to assist in her craft, but continues to inspire her path toward a fulfilling career.

"Both of my grandparents were athletes and represented Barbados in their respective sports, so I always looked up to them since they were high level athletes and wanted to follow in their footsteps, which I am now proudly doing," Pilgrim shared.

The 18-year-old, who earned a silver medal in the all-around competition at the United States National championships, along with a top five finish at the Nastia Liukin Cup, first donned the Barbados colours at PanAm championships in Colombia and from there, her appetite for more competition with the Caribbean Island became insatiable.

"It was also the first time Barbados was able to have a team at an event in gymnastics. I loved the experience and competing with my teammates. I was overall pleased with my performance, even though I had a mistake on one of the apparatuses, but considering I went to the competition right after Nationals, I did well, as the travelling resulted in missed training sessions," she said.

Pilgrim's performance at the PanAm Championships earned her an alternate for the World Gymnastics Championships in Budapest, and as fate would have, one of the qualified athletes has declined their spot and that opened the door for her to join Olivia "Storm" Kelly, as Barbados representatives in Antwerp.

The championship is scheduled to begin on September 30 and end on October 8.

Pilgrim knows all too well that this call up to fill the gap represents an opportunity to not only strut her stuff on one of gymnastics biggest stage, but also to possibly qualify for the Olympic Games, she is determined to make the most of it.

In fact, Pilgrim, having taken lessons from her PanAm performance, is hoping to polish up those errors to bring more success on this occasion. 

"I am very grateful to have another opportunity to represent Barbados and am really looking forward to getting to share the experience with Olivia. We all had a great time at PanAm so I’m glad we will have another chance to not only compete together, but possibly create some history for Barbados," Pilgrim declared.

"Unlike PanAm, I am hoping to do much better with my routimes and just be present and enjoy every moment of the championships. When my mind is clear I perform at my best and I also added in a couple of different skills to help increase my scores. So, I'm really looking forward to it," she added from her base in Belgium.

While qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris, remains her biggest goal and ambition, Pilgrim pointed out that just getting a chance to parade her skills at the World Championships, would suffice, if her dream doesn't come to fruition.

"Honestly, I would love to win a National Championship at the University of Florida, that is one of my biggest goals, along with being at the World Championships, which I am now. If I were to qualify for an Olympic Games, it would be icing on the cake of a fulfilling career," she ended.

While former champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Munro College played out a 1-1 stalemate, Maggotty High helped themselves to an 8-0 win over Roger Clarke in a ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup Zone E double-header in Santa Cruz on Saturday.

Ozwayne Miller (20th, 28th) and Roshane Lewis (60th, 64th), both had a brace for Maggotty, with Robinho Barrett (17th), Jeraine Robinson (51st), Chadrick Jackson (66th) and Daniel Martin (75th), also getting in on the act, as Roger Clarke were like lambs to the slaughter in the curtain-raiser.

The much-anticipated St Elizabeth derby feature contest, though not short on entertainment, did not serve up as much goals as D’andre Hibbert (35th) of STETHS and Munro’s captain Daniel Bowen (37th), ensured their teams a share of the spoils.

Despite the draw, STETHS remain at the summit of the zone on 10 points, one ahead of BB Coke (nine points), with Munro College inching up to eight points in third. Maggotty with their first win of the season, moved up to fifth on four points.

It was one-way traffic in favour of Maggotty High in the opening encounter which was reduced to 80 minutes following a lengthy delay caused by lightning.

Barrett opened the scoring with a neat finish, beating Raquan Powell in goal for Roger Clarke, at his near post.

Poor defending by Roger Clarke then allowed Miller to double the lead, as he latched on to, and tucked away a rebound.

Miller was again on target eight minutes later when he got in behind defenders and calmly slotted a left-footed effort beyond Powell, for his second on the day and third of the season.

Though up 3-0 at the break, Maggotty High were in no mood to let up and extended their lead six minutes into the resumption when Powell left his lines but failed to clear the ball properly. Robinson, who was on hand, capitalised as he fired the loose ball into an empty net.

On the hour-mark, Lewis went on the break down the right channel where he had time and space to dart into the 18-yard box and pick a spot to fire past the hapless Powell.

Lewis then grabbed his second and his team’s sixth, as he outpaced and outmuscled a defender before firing past the slightly advanced Powell in the 64th.

Jackson added his name to the scoresheet two minutes later. He picked up a pass from Lewis inside the 18-yard box and finished with aplomb.

And Martin applied the finishing touches to the rout when her converted from the penalty spot after Donte Blake, handled ball inside the danger area.

The feature contest lived up to billing for the most parts, as both STETHS and Munro were evenly poised throughout and nullified each other at both ends of the park.

It was STETHS that drew first blood when Hibbert applied a thumping right-footed finish to a pass from Ajay Smith. That was his fourth of the season.

However, their celebrations were short-lived as Munro replied soon after Roshane Wint headed on a ball for Bowen, who executed a sublime acrobatic finish on the volley, that gave Donte Campbell, in goal for STETHS, no chance at a save.

From there, both teams created their fair share of chances, particularly in the second half, but were unable to make them count.

Saturday’s results

Merlene Ottey 0, Green Island 1

Rusea’s High 1, Frome Tech 0

Discovery Bay High 0, York Castle 10

William Knibb Memorial 3, Cedric Titus 0

Aabuthnott Gallimore 2, Ferncourt High 5

Knockalva Technical 3, Black River High 1

Mannings School 3, Grange Hill High 0

Newell High 1, Lacovia High 3

Maggotty High 8, Roger Clarke 0

STETHS 1, Munro College 1

Manchester High 6, Mt St Joseph Catholic 0

deCarteret College 8, Cross Keys 0

Central High 16, Porus High 0

Vere Tech 2, Foga Road 1

Kemps Hill 1, Garvey Maceo High 1

May Day High vs Belair High (called off due to waterlogged field)

Lennon High vs Edwin Allen (called off due to lightning)

Clarendon College vs Thompson Town (called off due to lightning)

Carron Hall High vs St Mary High (rained out)

Wycliffe Martin High vs Horace Clarke (rained out)

Ocho Rios High vs Brown’s Town (rained out)

Reigning Horse of the Year Atomica registers fourth-consecutive win

Gary Subratie’s face portrayed ease with a tad bit of excitement, as he watched the replay of a race where his highly rated filly Atomica comfortably brushed aside rivals and copped the third running of the Menudo Trophy over 10 furlongs (2,000m), at Caymanas Park on Saturday.

That delight on Subratie’s face was very much understandable given the fact that this was Atomica’s fourth-straight win, following a slight injury setback earlier this year, and the manner of this performance, underscored that the four-year-old filly is well and truly back to her best.

Running from the widest draw in the small five-horse of the three-year-olds and upward Graded Stakes/Open Allowance contest, Atomica, partnered with customary jockey Dane Dawkins got out well and settled behind Jason DaCosta’s Outbidder (Jerome Innis) entering the clubhouse turn.

In fact, Dawkins –instead of playing the cat-mouse game with his rival – bided his time with the Nuclear Wayne and Honkeytonkville progeny for most of the way and it wasn’t until the left the half-mile that he sent Atomica into the ascendancy.

While Outbidder and D Head Cornerstone (Sadiki Blake) were kicking up a storm in close quarters, Dawkins remained cool, calm and collected as he gradually released the rein on the talented filly approaching the stretch run.

Once there, it was a case of how far Atomica would win, especially with Dawkins giving her a glimpse of the left-hand stick to which she responded and went on to win by four lengths going away.

Atomica secured the lion’s share of the $1.75 million purse for owner Oakridge Farms and breeder Karl Samuda, as she stopped the clock in 2:08.2, behind splits of 24.1, 49.3, 1:13.2 and 1:40.4.

Miniature Man (Ramon Nepare), D Head Cornerstone and Outbidder, completed the frame.

Subratie, secured another win on the 10-race card courtesy of Sensational Move (Richard Henry), in the seventh race.

Former three-time champion Anthony “Baba” Nunes, also had a brace of winners in Mr Senator (Jawara Steadman) and Hoist The Mast (Tevin Foster), while Philip Feanny, saddled Gilbert, which completed Foster’s double, and I’ve Got Magic in the night pan ridden by Reyan Lewis.

Lewis, the leading rider, earlier won aboard Peter-John Parsard’s Neo Star in the day’s penultimate event.

Racing continues on Sunday with another 10-race programme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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