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Menzies says PanAm Games will aid Olympic qualification campaign

Observer staff reporter

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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With the Under-23 Reggae Boyz team failing at the first hurdle in their bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz will have a dress rehearsal of sorts in their quest for qualification to Tokyo at the upcoming Pan American Games.

The Hue Menzies 18-member Reggae Girlz squad, which yesterday wrapped up a four-day camp, will depart the island today for Lima, Peru for the July 26 to August 11 PanAm Games before heading into the Olympic qualifiers later this year.

Unlike the men's football component at the Games, the women's teams are without age restrictions, and as such, Menzies has assembled a group with a blend of youth and experience for the challenge to come against Mexico, Paraguay, and Colombia in Group A at the Estadio Universidad.

Panama, Costa Rica, Argentina, and host Peru will contest Group B.

“Thanks to JOA (Jamaica Olympic Association) for making this possible. I mean, it gives us an opportunity not only to prepare for the Olympics, but sustain our programme, which is important, especially after the World Cup, to identify another crop of players. Because we want to sustain this and ensure that the next four years, wherever that World Cup is, we will be going there,” Menzies told journalists at a press conference at Jamaica Pegasus Hotel yesterday.

The squad comprises 11 members of the historic team that participated at the recently concluded Fifa Women's World Cup in France, while the other members, with the exception of first-time call-up Rachel Smith, were either a part of the World Cup qualifiers and or preparations and have represented the country at either the senior or youth level.

Despite having the World Cup experience under their belt and the familiarity with two of their opponents, Menzies said their three fixtures at the Games will be as tough as they get to secure a medal.

“Obviously, Mexico is normally the Concacaf representative (at the World Cup) on a regular basis and we beat Colombia in Colombia. So we know that they are going to be getting after us and that's why we want to do these games; whether we advance or not, we know we're going to get three quality games,” Menzies noted.

With uncertainty surrounding former AS Roma attacking player Trudi Carter, Menzies is contemplating bringing in left-back/midfielder Lauren Silver, who plies her trade for Norwegian club SK Trondheims-rn.

“We are waiting for confirmation and a medical assessment, so it is a little bit too early to jump to conclusions. But yeah, Trudi is still struggling a little bit from her knee, so we figured if needed we would bring in a little bit more experience to the table and we get to do that with Lauren when you have a young crop of girls,” the tactician shared.

Meanwhile, JOA President Christopher Samuda expressed their continued support to sport development in Jamaica regardless of the outcome.

“It is certainly our pleasure to be here because we dreamt of this happening, and it is in fact a reality now. Both teams (men's and women's) will make their presence felt at the Pan American Games and we at the Jamaica Olympic Association always encourages excellence and this is part of the dream of excellence that we have,” he said.

Squad — Sydney Schneider, Yazmeen Jamieson, Deneisha Blackwood, Jody Brown, Olufolasade Adamolekun, Jadyn Matthews, Sashana Campbell, Tarania Clarke, Chyanne Dennis, Madiya Harriott, Jayda Pelaia-Hylton, Mireya Grey, Toriana Patterson, Chanel Hudson-Marks, Chantelle Swaby, Shayla Smart, Trudi Carter, Rachel Smith.

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