Busby ready to go
Reggae Girlz coach eager for upcoming friendlies against USA, Nigeria to start World Cup prep
National senior women’s football team head coach Hubert Busby says that the upcoming international friendly matches against world champions the United States (US) and African champions Nigeria is the ideal start to preparations for the upcoming...
National senior women’s football team head coach Hubert Busby says that the upcoming international friendly matches against world champions the United States (US) and African champions Nigeria is the ideal start to preparations for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
After more than a year of inactivity, the Reggae Girlz will return to the pitch in June as part of the 2021 US Soccer Summer Series, which will take place in Houston, Texas.
Jamaica Football Federation president Michael Ricketts made the announcement in a virtual press conference yesterday. Jamaica will play Nigeria on June 10 and the US on June 13, with both matches to be played at the BBVA Compass Stadium.
February 2020 was the last time the Girlz played a competitive fixture as part of their unsuccessful Tokyo Olympic-qualifying campaign. COVID-19 caused national football activities to be put on hold, and previous attempts in 2020 to assemble the team for camps or games were unsuccessful.
With the series serving as the start of their preparations for the qualifiers in November, Busby says that it is important that their return came against high-quality opposition, which he believes will serve the team well on the road to Australia and New Zealand.
“We are coming out of the gates after being away from each other (for so long),” he said. “From not playing any games to playing the best-ranked team in the world (United States) and a team ranked in the top 40 in the world (Nigeria), this is what it’s about. This is what we want.
OBJECTIVE OF MATCHES
“We want to be able to prepare ourselves adequately because ultimately, it’s about the World Cup qualifiers. So, obviously, learning from and getting to understand our playing model, working out the kinks, so to speak, so that when we do go into qualifiers, we are a fine-tuned machine, and that’s really the objective of these matches. And so, why not do so against some of the best teams in the world?”
Jamaica remains ranked fifth in the Concacaf region, but they have slipped one place to 51st in the world in the latest FIFA rankings. While Busby expects some growing pains given the inactivity, he says that the team is looking forward to returning after 15 months apart.
“We have tried to get camps previously, and, obviously, due to the pandemic and restrictions, we weren’t able to do that until now,” he said. “We as a staff are excited. There’s going to be some challenges for us, obviously, getting on the same page early on, but again it’s great for us to get back together, and the players are just excited to be representing their country again.”
Ricketts said that a pre-tournament camp is being planned for June 4 to 8. Additionally, while not disclosing the financial cost of the campaign, he said that they are looking at opportunities to raise the necessary capital with partners The Marley Foundation.
“We are, as it is now, having discussions and trying our best [to see] how we are going to finance this programme,” he said. “This is the first in a number of prospective plans and events that will lead us, hopefully, to Australia and New Zealand.”
The provisional 31 players squad called up for the games includes core members of the 2019 World Cup squad like French league joint top scorer Khadija Shaw, goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, defender Konya Plummer, and striker Jody Brown.