Young Girlz campaign off to rocky start
Jamaica’s national under-20 women’s team faces an uphill climb to keep their Under-20 World Cup hopes alive after losing 4-0 to Canada in their Under-20 Concacaf Women’s Championship final round group opener yesterday at the Estadio Felix Sanchez in the Dominican Republic.
A first-half brace from Anabelle Chukwu in the 39th and 45th minutes led the charge for the Canadians as Olivia Smith and Renee Watson added tallies in the 56th and 90th minutes.
It was a fixture that was pushed back by two days as Wednesday’s scheduled matchday was postponed because of inclement weather and a waterlogged field. But in more favourable conditions, Jamaica simply could not weather the storm that the Canadians brought.
Chukwu’s opener came from a clearance in Jamaica’s half and some good interplay allowed her to storm through the defence and slot the ball past goalkeeper Liya Brooks. Unforced errors were Jamaica’s undoing as the first half came to a close as Chukwe won the ball from Destiny Powell and left one-on-one with Brooks, she finished from close range to double their advantage.
Jamaica tried to forge a response in the second half but Smith put the game virtually beyond reach 11 minutes after the break as her low shot found the corner to compound the Girlz’s woes. JFF technical director Wendell Downswell had emphasised the importance of keeping their defensive shape in a tough group but the Jamaicans could not keep up with Canada and had few opportunities to threaten their opponents. Watson would round off a commanding performance in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time as the Canadians finished with 21 shots, six of them finding the target and dominating possession by 60 per cent. Jamaica only had two shots the entire game with one on target which came from Natoya Atkinson in the first half.
With only two spots guaranteed for the semifinals, Jamaica’s task will only get tougher as they face the United States tomorrow afternoon, as a result of the change in schedule. They will need a positive result to keep their hopes alive of making the Under-20 World Cup next year.