New coach backs young Reggae Girlz to do well
AFTER THREE weeks of intense preparation for the Concacaf U20 Women Championship qualification round, newly appointed under-20 Reggae Girlz coach, Hugh Bradford, believes the team has done well with the time they had and expects a good tournament from the youngsters.
Jamaica play in Group E along with Honduras, Bermuda, Anguilla and French Guiana. They open their account against French Guiana at the Estadio Nacional in Managua, Nicaragua, on Friday, and although Bradford knows very little of his opponents, he is confident in the ability of his Girlz.
“Less time is always a setback. But it is what I have, so we made the best of it. More time would have been better, but we just didn’t have it.
“But it is coming together well. The camp has gone well. The players have a few bruises here and there from training but overall, the young ladies have responded well and have enjoyed the challenge, and I think their mindset is in the right place,” he said.
The team is made up mainly of local talent, including the women’s league and the schoolgirl league’s leading scorer, Shaneil Buckley, and a few overseas-based players.
Although impressed with what he has seen from the squad thus far, Bradford believes the true test will be how they adjust to playing with just a day’s rest between games.
“We have some players who are very strong. We have played some scrimmage but when you are going to play three games in a short period of time, I think the conditioning will show.
“So after the first game, it is how good they recover after that match,” he noted.
On paper, Honduras appears to be the Girlz’s biggest challenge, but Bradford is taking none of his opponents for granted.
“In football anything can happen. I do not know the other teams well, but I do know that the players here have been working hard to prepare themselves to be successful. It is just a matter of how we execute.
“I would like the players to come out and deal with the environment well, the pressure of the first game and not let the moment get too big for them to play, enjoy the game and come away with a good result. I think the young ladies will play well.”
Director of football, Wendell Downswell, agrees that no team can be underestimated but believes the team has the talent to move on to the next stage.
“You can never tell what the other countries are doing and with women’s football, there is not much information.
“But if you look at the last couple under-17 teams, they did well and they basically did that without a league. So they have been doing themselves proud and should continue to do so.”
The group winners, along with the winners of five other groups, will advance to the 2023 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, joining the region’s top two ranked nations, the United States and Mexico.
The Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship is scheduled for May 24-June 3 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
The team departs the island today for the April 14-22 qualifiers in Nicaragua.