Sport

Braced for battle

Menzies favours Girlz's chances

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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After comfortably topping the Concacaf Caribbean Women's Qualifiers, Head Coach Hue Menzies and his senior Reggae Girlz team are now favouring their chances of securing a historic berth to next year's FIFA Women's World Cup in France.

The Reggae Girlz came out of the final-round Caribbean phase of qualifiers with maximum 12 points, following 9-0, 4-0, 4-1 and 6-1 victories over Antigua and Barbuda, Bermuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba, respectively.

They will be riding high on confidence heading into next month's Concacaf Women's Championship in the United States where they have been drawn in Group B alongside Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba.

Defending champions and hosts United States will contest Group A alongside Mexico, Panama and Caribbean runners-up Trinidad and Tobago in the October 4-17 tournament.

Jamaica could secure one of the top three automatic spots from the region to the World Cup, or possibly land the fourth-place play-off position to dispute a home-and-away intercontinental battle with Argentina. The winner of the play-off will qualify to the global football showpiece.

With two teams advancing from each final-round group to advance to the semi-final of the Concacaf Women's Championship, Menzies, though rating their chances highly, respects the quality of their opponents.

“Obviously, we should start evaluate at this level. We know the draw was going to be tough but we feel we are in a position where we could have some success if we play the type of football we are capable of playing.

“But at this level, Costa Rica and Canada have constantly been in and out of that position of advancing so we are basically still in a tough group, so [we] just have to play our cards right,” Menzies told the Jamaica Observer from his base in the United States yesterday.

Though having some familiarity with Costa Rica, who defeated the Reggae Girlz 2-1 at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in July, and Cuba, who they defeated 6-1 on Sunday in the Caribbean phase of qualifying, Menzies believes the structure of both teams will change for the upcoming championships.

“They (Costa Rica) were missing players at the CAC Games because their top player wasn't there as well, so it is going to be a tough game but we do like our chances against them.

“We are going to see how it works against Canada as well, and obviously I am sure Cuba is going to come out with a different game plan against us. They were more physical in the second half of our last game and we only scored one goal, so either way you look at it we are in a tough situation,” the tactician reasoned.

With that said, Menzies bemoaned the fact that his coaching staff, which includes assistant Lorne Donaldson and Andrew Price will not have the benefit of pooling the team together well in advance of the championship.

“The biggest issue now is the time of the event because most of our players are in their college season and professional season, so it is going to be difficult to bring everybody together.

“But we can't control the schedule; we just have to deal with it. So the only thing we can do is try to get the unattached players over for training in Florida and we have already taken steps for that to happen,” he shared.

Finally, Menzies hinted that there will be changes to the current squad for the championships, as they seek to pool the best group of players together to enhance the country's chances of making the World Cup.

“We set standards and goals individually and as a team, so we are not worried about what the opponents do, we worry about what we have to do. So we are just going to evaluate the group, some players are not up to par and have shown us that they belong so we just have to evaluate and see where we are,” Menzies noted.

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