Tue | Jun 18, 2019

Silk and steel! - Menzies calls for strong performance from Reggae Girlz against Panama in World Cup send-off

Published:Sunday | May 19, 2019 | 12:45 AMNodley Wright - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Jamaican striker Khadija Shaw (left) is mobbed by teammates after bagging one of her two goals against Chile in their friendly international at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James on March 3. The Jamaicans won 3-2.
Jamaican striker Khadija Shaw (left) is mobbed by teammates after bagging one of her two goals against Chile in their friendly international at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James on March 3. The Jamaicans won 3-2.

If coach Hue Menzies has things his way today, the Reggae Girlz will put on a display of silk and mental steel when they host Panama in a send-off match for the history-creating Girlz, set to take place at the National Stadium. Game time is 6 p.m.

Panama, the team the Reggae Girlz bettered in the CONCACAF group of the FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers to book their tickets to France, may be eyeing revenge, but that feeds perfectly into the coaching staff’s plans for their charges according to Menzies.

“For the purposes of this game, we want our players to be psychologically tough to deal with what Panama is bringing to the game. Panama are probably looking at it as revenge, but psychologically, we need to deal with that, we need to get tougher,” Menzies explained.

“Because in the World Cup we are going to come up against situations that are going to call on that psychological component. They will have to make tough decisions, immediate decisions. Fighting through things. That is what we want to get out of this game,” continued Menzies, outlining the mental steel aspect.

As far as the silk is concerned, he wants the team to put on a show.

“I think some people perceive women’s football as kicking it up the field, and they are going to see a good brand of football. Kids are playing through layers and bypassing lanes, all the tactical things in football. It should be a good show.

“We played Chile here twice, and people are getting to know the players. Jamaica needs to know that we have a big pool of players and we can rotate players in and out, and they get to know the personnel and they get to know the style of play,” said the man who guided the females into history.

HIGH INTENSITY

With the 23-woman World Cup squad still to be named, many players are still fighting to book their ticket, so there will also be personal reasons to excel and to ensure that the level of intensity remains high.

While a final 11 will not be named until today, the likes of top striker Khadija Shaw, captain Konya Plummer, Allyson Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood, and Dominique Bond-Flasza are expected to scaffold the team.

Like the Jamaicans, the Panamians will field a strong team, which should include the likes of Erika Hernández, Natalia Mills, Lineth Cedeno, Kenia Rangel, Karia Riley, Marta Cox, and Yomira Pinzon. They have also included youngsters Sheyla Diaz, Hilary Jaen, Anuvis Angulo, Maria Montenegro, and Aldrith Quintero.

While their coach, Victor Suárez, has publicly played down the revenge aspect, his team must still be smarting from that 4-2 penalty loss. Their eyes would be on victory, a victory, which, if achieved on the home turf of the Girlz, would go a long way in reducing the hurt.