Mon | Feb 24, 2020

Reggae Girlz hunt Olympic berth - Coach Busby: We are ­hoping first game sets the tone

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 12:18 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Khadija Shaw (foreground left) and Allyson Swaby (foreground right) during a Reggae Girlz training session.
Khadija Shaw (left) in action against Australia at last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

Reggae Girlz head coach Hubert Busby Jr says said getting a win against Mexico in their opening game of the Concacaf Women’s Olympic qualifiers will be crucial to setting the tone for the qualifiers and he believes he has a squad capable of achieving this objective.

The Reggae Girlz are in Group B with Mexico, Canada and St Kitts and Nevis, and they play the Mexicans in their first match at HEB Park in Edinburg, Texas. Kick-off is 8 p.m. (Ja time).

In Group A are hosts United States, Costa Rica, Panama and Haiti. The top two countries from each group will advance to the play-offs. Costa Rica kicked off the tournament yesterday with a 6-1 demolition of Panama.

Busby, who was only appointed head coach of the team three weeks ago, says the players have responded to the demands of the coaching staff with great attitude and professionalism and he is hoping that this will show up in their play this evening.

“We are hoping the first game sets the tone. Ideally, we have to play well and get a result … we need to win that match. Obviously, that is going to set us up for the next two games, so that’s our objective, we are going into that game with the idea that we have to win to put us on the right path to qualify for the next round,” he said.

“We are confident and the (coaching) staff and I have been very pleased with some of the things they (players) have been able to grasp and may that continue. We challenge them (players) to be open minded to some of the things we are trying to implement and all we can do is credit them in doing so when they take the training pitch. Their attitude and professionalism has been first class this last week and we are pleased how they have gone about it,” he added.

The Reggae Girlz left the island on Friday, January 17 for a ten-day pre-tournament camp in Houston. However, the talismanic Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw and top defender, Allyson Swaby did not join the squad until Monday but Bubsy is confident that their absence from the camp will not affect their contribution on the pitch.

“It is not ideal but we have sent them some things via PowerPoints and emails in terms of what we are looking for, so I am sure they have them. They are professionals and I have no doubt they will hit the ground running in terms of what we need,” he stated earlier this week.

The former Crystal Palace ‘shot stopper’ is anticipating a very difficult game from the Mexicans but believes he has the players at his disposal to take care of the job.

“Everything is up to speed and we have no complaints, we just have to continue on the path we’ve laid out and keep preparing for the game.

“Mexico have a younger team, they’ve made some changes with personnel but like all Mexican teams they are going to be very technical and organised and they will stick to their philosophy. So we can’t allow them to play in their rhythm and (we have to be) beware that they have some threats. They are one of the best teams in our region, so we have to respect who they are for sure.

“But we have been putting a lot of work on the field, off the field … tactical implementation individually and as a team, and they (players) have a good understanding of what we are expecting from them on Wednesday,” he said.

Jamaica and Mexico have met twice in women’s football with the Central Americans winning both matches. Last year, they won 2-0 at the Pan American Games and six years earlier in 2014, they whipped the Reggae Girlz 3-1 during the Concacaf Championships.

Today’s games

n Canada vs St Kitts and Nevis – 5:30 p.m.

n Mexico vs Jamaica – 8 p.m.

Head to Head

n 28-7-2019 – Mexico 2 Jamaica 0

n 21-10-2014 – Mexico 3 Jamaica 1