Reggae Girlz to use Cup of Nations tourney to test World Cup preparedness

Published on 15 February 2023

Jamaica Reggae Girlz arrive at training for the Cup of Nations Tournament under way in Australia. (Photo credit Tiff Williams/JFF)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (February 15, 2023)—Jamaica Reggae Girlz open their campaign in the four-team international women’s football tournament Cup of Nations against Spain on February 16 at 4:10 pm AEDT.

The invitational competition, being played from February 16-22, is spread across Gosford, Sydney and Newcastle, Australia. The participating teams are Spain, Australia, Czech Republic and Jamaica.

The Reggae Girlz, who will contest their second straight Women’s World Cup this summer, will use the precursor competition to see how they stack up against higher-ranked teams also contesting the sport’s show piece, Coach Lorne Donaldson said.

“This is a tournament where we are going to face three different opponents just like the World Cup (Group Stage),” Donaldson said. He added, “The competition level is great, so we hope to see where we are in our preparation.”

Jamaica, which is ranked 44th globally, open against Spain, ranked seventh, on February 16, before playing Czech Republic (28) on February 19 and Australia (12) on February 22.

Speaking specifically about the first encounter, Donaldson said the Reggae Girlz’s plan is to pit their athleticism against the Spaniards’ ball possession proclivities.

“We are trying to gauge how we can be defensively against Spain going forward,” the coach said. He will also see his team in action without the talismanic captain and leading goal-scorer Khadija “Bunny” Shaw. Shaw, also the leading scorer in England’s Women’s Super League, withdrew a week before the competition citing personal reasons.

“We are going to miss her, but I think we’re just going to concentrate on the players we have here. I think the team will step up because we are a team that doesn’t really crumble,” Donaldson said.

Meanwhile, the English-born midfielder Drew Spence, who plays professionally with Tottenham Hotspur, said the Cup of Nations is an apt test for the team.

“I think it’s important for us to really focus on what we’ve been doing for the last few months to qualify for the World Cup. Playing against this competition, I think, will be a great test for us. It is important that we get the right tactics right and everyone just continues to gel together,” Spence said.

For the World Cup, which will be played in Australia and New Zealand, Jamaica is drawn into Group F with France, Brazil and the Playoff winner from Group C comprised of Chinese Taipei, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Panama.

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