All eyes on Paris 2024
Jamaica, Canada in big clash at National Stadium, Reggae Girlz aiming to make history again by qualifying for their first Olympic Games
As the Reggae Girlz attempt to qualify for their first-ever Olympics football tournament, with the first of two play-off games at the National Stadium today at 7 p.m., coach Lorne Donaldson says a good result is paramount in order to give themselves a chance when they play the second and final leg away next Tuesday at the BMO Field in Toronto, Canada.
The two countries are hunting the final spot from Concacaf for the 2024 Paris Olympics and a berth in the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.
Fresh from their historic round of 16 appearance at the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup, Donaldson said the Girlz are highly motivated and know what’s at stake.
“It is very important to get the win. That’s the objective to get a good result. That’s what it’s all about and we are going to come out and give everything.
“So we have to try and get a positive result and then go to Canada and leave it on the table,” he said.
Donaldson has brought back the majority of the players from the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, and he is confident they will give the home supporters something to cheer about.
“The mental state of these girls will be alright. So I won’t worry about their mental state. They know what’s at stake and, as long as you know what’s at stake, you don’t have to say it every day.
“We have a few players missing due to obligations, but I trust all the girls we have brought in. They understand what’s it all about. They are a tight group and they are going to come out and make the country proud,” he stated
Canada did not have a good World Cup and looked a shadow of the team that won the last women’s Olympic football title and were eliminated at the group stage. In their final match, they lost 4-0 to hosts Australia. However, Donaldson pointed out that, apart from being the defending champions, they are a high-pedigree team.
“Canada are the defending champions of the Olympics. They have good footballers and we know all those girls. They are good players. They have been on the world stage for a long time and they have one bad outing and everyone is trying to cast them away, but it’s still Canada. They have good footballers,” he emphasised.
“We have to come in and try to match them. We have accomplished a lot just having been to a World Cup, but we haven’t really done anything. So we can do better and we have to start proving we can do better.”
Women’s Ballon d’Or nominee Khadija Shaw will lead the Jamaican attack with the outstanding Drew Spence in midfield, the dependable trio of Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby and Deneisha Blackwood, and top goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.
Jamaica and Canada have met nine times since 1991 in either the Concacaf Women’s Championship or in Olympic qualifiers, and the Canadians have won all the matches. Last year, the teams met in the semi-finals of the Concacaf Women’s Championship and Canada emerged 3-0 winners. Jessie Fleming, Allysha Chapman and Adriana Leon were the scorers for Canada. Fleming and Leon are in Canada’s squad to face Jamaica today. Also in the squad is Canada’s all-time leading goalscorer and captain, 40 year-old Christine Sinclair. Sinclair has scored 190 international goals.