Girlz eager for Brazil clash
Far from being depressed about their tough draw for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, the Reggae Girlz are in fact looking forward to playing Brazil when the competition begins next year. Speaking to media as the Girlz continued their tour of the island yesterday, head coach Hue Menzies and captain Konya Plummer said they look at that game as an opportunity. Menzies also expressed the hope that the Girlz will able to play two warm-up games in Jamaica.
In a press briefing at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, coach Menzies described the mood of the team as "ecstatic". "We know we worked hard for this," he said of the team's historic qualification for the World Cup. "We dealt with a lot of sacrifices to get here."
Jamaica are in a group with Brazil, Italy and Australia, and for the coach and captain, a match-up with Brazil is a dream come true. "I know it's a dream for me as a coach because Brazil is such an idolised country from Jamaica." he said. "Growing up as a kid, that's how we watched Brazil, favourite team [as our] because, you know, Jamaica wasn't there back in the seventies."
Menzies was not surprised that Jamaica ended up in the same group as the South Americans. "When I saw Brazil in the draw, we kind of knew where we were because we couldn't be in the last two brackets because Canada and USA were in there. So I said, 'We're going to play Brazil.'"
He thinks the Jamaica-Brazil fixture could be a good game. "We feel like we play similarly," he suggested. "We're probably a little more athletic, but we're a possession-oriented team."
Echoing those sentiments was Plummer. "Everybody in Jamaica is a fan of Brazil, and now that we're in the World Cup, it's going to be a good game, and we've got to earn our respect. Arguably the greatest player in the world, Marta, I'm looking forward to playing her - all of us are," Plummer said.
She is not dismayed by the quality of opponents Jamaica will face when the World Cup kicks off in France next June. "Regardless of the challenge, we're going out there to win, to do our best at it."
Menzies said the search is on for practice games with a view to have the Girlz play twice in Jamaica. "We want to play here in Jamaica. We want the people to see us," he declared. In reference to the Girlz's whirlwind tour of the island, he said, "So we want to continue that, so we want to try to play two games, one in the west and one in the east, and I think that's appropriate."
The Girlz's island travels continue today and tomorrow as they will receive the keys to St Ann's Bay and Spanish Town.
Among the team members present was goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who made two penalty-shoot-out saves in the crucial match against Panama when the Girlz secured their World Cup spot. Wonderfully modest, she said, "Coach prepped me the day before, as well as days before, and when he said it, it's true; he did tell me I was going to make a difference."