Mon | Jun 1, 2020

Confident Girlz off to Olympic qualifiers

Published:Sunday | January 19, 2020 | 1:10 AM

The resignation of Reggae Girlz head coach Hue Menzies, followed by a delay by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in appointing his replacement, came at the most inopportune time as the Girlz prepared for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers. Despite this, however, the team remains confident of securing its Olympic berth.

A contingent including the local-based players, team officials, and the coaching staff left the island on Friday to complete final preparations for the upcoming fixtures in the final round of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifiers. Drawn in Group B alongside Canada, Mexico, and St Kitts and Nevis, the Girlz will be expecting strong opposition.

They are confident, however, that the recent upheaval of coaching personnel will not negatively affect their campaign as they enter the qualifiers with Hubert Busby as head coach.

Assistant coach Andrew Price, speaking before the squad’s departure, said that the expectations for the team were very high.

“Expectations remain high. We are professional players and professional coaches, so, basically, we have to deal with the situation as it is at hand,” he said. “We’re going over there to do the country proud. It’s an opportunity for us to create history by qualifying for the Olympics.”

Going into the tournament, the Girlz will be wary of their Canadian opponents who they last faced in the World Cup qualifying campaign back in 2018. Then, it was the female ‘Canucks’ who claimed all three points, beating the Reggae Girlz 2-0 in the group stage.

Price will be hoping that history does not repeat itself this time around.

NOT WORRIED

“We’re not worried, definitely not. You have to play everybody to go through to the Olympics, so it’s just another game for us to play,” said Price. “When we played against them last time, we played well even though we lost. So we know what they’re capable of, so it’s up to us to just plan properly.”

The onus will be on coach Busby who, despite receiving praise from JFF general secretary Dalton Wint, will be under pressure to make his appointment permanent. Busby will be assessed throughout the competition, with the JFF expected to make a long-term coaching decision following the tournament.

The Girlz will kick off their campaign on January 29 when they take on Mexico at the H-E-B Park stadium in Texas.

– Gregory Bryce