Reggae Girlz World Cup debut – It just isn’t easy

L. Bronson

Jamaica's national women's soccer team with team ambassador, Cedella Marley (bottom center).

No one said it would be easy. Nor should it be, for this is the pinnacle of women’s football, the FIFA World Cup Finals.

Jamaica, the first Caribbean country to qualify for the global showpiece, made their historic bow into the tournament in Grenoble on Sunday, and though the Reggae Girlz were brought down to earth with a 3-0 defeat, they left many of their supporters filled with joy at the manner in which they competed.

Still, the reality is that the Reggae Girlz are some ways off, tactically and technically, from elite teams, such as defending champion United States of America, former winners Germany, Japan, China, the Scandinavian teams, host France, England, among others including Brazil, Australia, etc.

Should take heart

Nonetheless, the Girlz and the technical staff need not drop their collective heads, but rather take heart from their effort, remain humble and eager to learn and make the most of the two remaining preliminary group games against Italy on Friday (June 14) in Reims, and Australia on Tuesday, June 18 in Grenoble.

Italy ranked at 16 on the FIFA list, and making a long-awaited return to the Finals, shocked the number six-ranked Australia 2-1 in the other Group C game on Sunday.

Need to improve at the center

As we have said in this space before, Jamaica’s team is quite soft through its spine (middle) and will need to drastically improve in that area if they are to harbor thoughts of seriously challenging the elite teams in the future.

Additionally, the players appear too naïve and careless in possession, especially in the defensive third of the field, where such mistakes can be costly.

It would be nice to see better communication between the back four and a more compact unit.

Personnel and formation changes likely

Interestingly, assistant coach Lorne Donaldson has since told the media in France that the technical staff is tinkering with personnel changes for the game against Italy, as the team desperately seek a positive result in its quest to progress to the knockout stage.

“Tactically we made some adjustments, formation wise. It looks good for the first day, so I like what I am seeing so far and I like the spirit of the players. Our movements were much better defensively, and we seem more coordinated now, so there is no need to second guess ourselves,” he told the Jamaica Observer newspaper after the team’s training session in Reims on Tuesday.

He added: “We did some work and we are going to do more work on it and see if our cohesiveness can be a lot better in the game and we can connect a little bit more and get more compact defensively. We also want to spread ourselves out some more which would result in us being more dangerous in attack.”

Donaldson also suggested that the team needed to change from its 4-3-3 formation as it had become ineffective and stale.

The Italians appeared organized and compact and displayed the characteristics for which their male counterparts are renowned, which will make them difficult opponents for Jamaica on Friday, as they seek to consolidate their top-two place in the group.

So, if the Girlz can make the necessary adjustments and learn from the mistakes against Brazil, though we believe those mistakes are intrinsic, then supporters would be satisfied, regardless of the result.

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