Reggae Girlz closing the gap on big guns – Gilbert
REGGAE GIRLZ assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says the gap between Jamaica and regional powerhouse Canada is closing after the Girlz narrow 2-1 defeat to the North Americans in the second game of their two-leg Olympic qualification tie at the BMO Stadium in Toronto on Tuesday, for a 4-1 aggregate loss.
After suffering a 2-0 loss in the first leg on Friday inside the National Stadium, the Reggae Girlz went into Tuesday’s return game without ace striker Khadija Shaw and winger Jody Brown, because of injuries.
Nevertheless, they took the lead through Drew Spence’s excellent 33rd-minute free kick.
However, the host responded with goals from Chloe Lacasse six minutes later, and Jordyn Huitema sealed the win five minutes after the break.
Gilbert pointed out that, in the past, the Reggae Girlz would be thumped by the Canadians but that, in recent times, scores have suggested that they have closed the gap on the Olympic champions.
“Gone are the days when we turn up against Canada and everybody would say ‘it will be a 4-0 or a 6-0 beating’. It just goes to show how far the programme and the ladies have come,” he said.
He noted that, in the two previous meetings before the Olympic qualifiers, Jamaica lost 9-0 then 3-0, and he said, to go into Canada without ace forward Shaw and Brown, and come away with a one-goal defeat, proves how far they have come.
“We know they (Shaw and Brown) are quality players. It would have been good if we had them, even for a few minutes, because we know what they can do. But that is why it is important to be able to call on other players and they can deliver.
“But it just goes to show how far the programme has come and how we are narrowing that gap. That’s the positive we need to take from it, the fact that we were in their backyard and they only got a narrow win,” he said.
The Jamaicans competed well against their more accomplished adversary and took a surprise lead through Spence and, though the Canadians stormed back with goals from Lacasse and Huitema, Gilbert said it was an effort that elicited pride nonetheless.
“Going into Canada’s backyard and coming out with a 1-1 score at half-time was a good showing. It was a good performance. We have to lift our hats to the ladies for how they performed both games, despite not getting the favourable result. They gave it their all and made Jamaicans proud across the world.”