Canada advances while Jamaica packs for home

Nichelle Prince

Canada Women’s team has advanced into the Round of 16 knockout stage after playing just two group games of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup here in France. Canada defeated Cameroon 1-0 in their first game and bore the fruits of goals from Janine Beckie and Nichelle Prince to defeat New Zealand 2-0 in their second match.

Canada faces Netherlands in the battle of the undefeated teams of Group E on Thursday. Netherlands also defeated Cameroon and New Zealand and sits at the top of the table from scoring 4 goals to Canada’s 3, with both teams having identical goal difference of +3.

Jamaica on the other hand did not fare as well in the tournament despite heading into the tournament with optimism, even though they would have been a long shot, this being their debut at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Reality crept in after losing their third consecutive group match to Australia 3-1 last Tuesday 16th. However, the Reggae Girlz gave their supporters what they wanted – a goal before they left the tournament; Havana Solaun did the honours.

Jamaica Reggae Girlz

She became the first Jamaica player to score at a FIFA Women’s World Cup when she collected a through pass from Khadija and beat the Australian keeper with a neat placement into the net. From praying for the team to score it seems like the fans wanted more.

Solaun’s goal made it a 2-1 game in the 49th minute, and for a brief moment it seemed like Jamaica fans were ready for more goals and a push for a comeback, but it was not to be. Jamaica eventually lost the match by a score of 4-1 and bade farewell to the tournament.

In hindsight many will look at Jamaica’s 5-0 loss to Italy and recognize the rawness of the Reggae Girlz talent. It was a marvellous experience for the team and it was also good while it lasted. There were bright spots, one of which was the Reggae Girlz spirited effort against Brazil to open the tournament.

The performance coincided with the support they received from the stands. It was by far the largest contingent of Jamaica fans that traveled to support any of its national teams playing in international tournaments. No doubt that at this FIFA Women’s World Cup in France, the large Jamaican contingent in the stands was a great bboost to players who were new to the scene.

Another bright spot was that Jamaica Reggae Girlz managed to score a goal in their first appearance at this World Cup, a feat that is not easily accomplished by debutants. Unfortunately, the second match against Italy will have many Jamaica fans scratching their heads in search of answers after that 5-0 loss; although they seemed to think that conceding an early penalty may have unsettled the team.

For me it is all about experience and a lack of it. Jamaica Reggae Girlz lack experience and that takes away a big part of one’s competitive edge. The game is about your first touch, synergy and positional play. The Reggae Girlz will come to know this as they become more experienced.

Still, the Reggae Girlz entered the last group match against Australia with a slim chance of advancing to Round of 16 knock out stage. However, those odds were insurmountable and the loss to Australia mathematically eliminated Jamaica.

Canada is slowly but surely making inroads in the tournament by running under the radar in Group E.  The knock out stage is here and you have but one chance to move on.

Canada’s win over New Zealand was the first time in FIFA Women’s World Cup history that the team defeated a Confederation Champion. That may be a sign of good things to come.