Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Kelly's World | C’mon, Reggae Girlz, you can do this

Published:Monday | June 3, 2019 | 12:15 AM
Jamaica's Reggae Girlz celebrate a goal.
Members of the Reggae Girlz during a training session
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Unlike some wagonists, I will not say that I have always followed the Reggae Girlz.

I didn’t even realise that the Women’s World Cup only started in 1991.

Nor do I claim to suggest that I’ve followed every kick of every tournament that has ever been held.

I don’t even remember when the ‘Road to France’ for the Reggae Girlz really started. Long story short, I’m not a diehard fan.

So when you see yours truly fretting about the upcoming tournament and how the Reggae Girlz will do, then you know I’m fully on board.

I’m so invested in it now that when star striker Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw was helped off the field during our last warm-up game against Scotland, mi get a few more grey hairs.

Serious ting, enuh! I heard in passing that at least one squad member appeared to have been injured. But when I heard it was Bunny, mi say ‘Jeezas, how we salt so!’

Being the pessimist I am, I expected the worst. I envisioned the Reggae Girlz, who I think are better in attack than defence, going into the biggest tournament without their biggest gun.

However, coach Hue Menzies reassured the public that Bunny was fine, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

The last time a senior national football team qualified for a World Cup, 1998, I was a teen in lower sixth form.

Now, it’s been 21 years since we qualified for the men’s World Cup and I think the average Jamaican is much more football savvy than in 1998.

I remember some people thought Jamaica could get to the second round or even further.

The Reggae Boyz were drawn against Argentina, two-time winners, and some people thought we would beat them! We got 5-0.

People will look at the fact that fellow debutant Croatia reached the semi-final, but Croatia had some of the world’s best players at the time (Suker, Prosinecki, Boban, et al).

Another debutant, Japan, have played in every men’s World Cup since (they also hosted in 2002), and even won the women’s tournament in 2011. Neither of our national senior teams has progressed that far.

So I won’t be looking at our prospects in the Women’s World Cup, scheduled to start this Friday, with the same overly opportunistic beliefs of 21 years ago.

Tough Group

We’ve been given a tough group, plain and simple. Our first game is against Brazil, ranked number 10 in the world. Our second game is against Italy, who is ranked 15th.

Statistically, our toughest game is last, against Australia, who are ranked number six. Ouch! But we could make the second round.

Brazil’s biggest stars are ‘up there’ age-wise, and we have players who play in Europe so they may know a thing or two about the Italians.

Plus, Australia may have qualified by then, so they may not exactly ‘turn the screws’. A second-round place isn’t beyond us.

I won’t say how the World Cup will go (years of inept prediction in the men’s cup have dulled my enthusiasm).

But I know I won’t miss a second of the Reggae Girlz’s stay, no matter how long it is. #daretoshine

n Link me at daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com.