Under-20 coach hails outstanding Ebony Clarke
Jamaica's Under-20 coach, Xavier Gilbert, said on a day when key players failed to spark, striker Ebony Clarke turned up trumps, not by just scoring the two goals that helped Jamaica to top their three-team Group B qualifiers over the weekend, but with her all-round performance as well.
Jamaica defeated Curacao 10-0 in their opening game, while Bermuda thrashed the same opponents 5-1 to set up a decisive final game between the hosts and the Caribbean football queens, and Gilbert thought Clarke was the difference in that game.
"Ebony scored two in the final. She had an outstanding game and not just because she scored two goals. She was the player for us on the day. She stepped up to the plate. A few of our key players weren't having the best of games, and she stepped up and did what she had to do. Hence we came out victors," he told The Gleaner.
Clarke got the Jamaican girls off the mark after just three minutes of play, and the Reggae Girlz continued to have the better of the game afterwards. But spurred on by many home fans, Bermuda gave Jamaica the occasional scare and grabbed the equaliser when Deshae Darrell fired home on 58 minutes.
But Jamaica restored their advantage five minutes later when Clarke bagged her second of the game to seal the win for the young Girlz.
"The girls did well. The second game was tough and we anticipated that, although I thought they made it tougher than it actually was. But they (Bermuda) had more than 2000 spectators cheering them on and they used that to their advantage.
"We didn't have our best game.. but we were always in control," he said..
One of the objectives was not to concede any goals at the tournament, and though they gave up one, Gilbert thought that defensively, they were very good despite the mishap that led to the goal.
"The objective was to win the tournament, and we did what we had to do," he insisted.
Jamaica advanced to the next round of the CFU qualifiers in November. They will face Haiti, Dominican Republic and host St Kitts and Nevis, with the top two to advance to the CONCACAF final round. The top three at the CONCACAF final round will qualify for the women's U-20 World Cup.