WC Countdown: Group C – Jamaica

Last but not least in group C, we’ve got another newcomer to the World Cup – Jamaica.

It has been quite a dramatic route to France for the ‘Reggae Girlz’, who were disbanded back in 2008 after failing to get out of the group stage of the qualification for the Olympics, a group which also featured both Mexico and the USA. A lack of funding made the Jamaica Football Federation halt the senior women’s football program in the country in 2010, and the team lost their FIFA ranking because of three years inactivity. Thanks to Cedella Marley, daughter of Bob Marley, becoming the ambassador of the team in 2014, the program could be revived and she has helped the team a lot by raising awareness, encouraged the development of the players and the team as well as financially aiding them. This is the first time that Jamaica has managed to qualify to the World Cup, and they did so in quite the fashion. They sailed through the group stages, losing to Canada but grabbing a win against Costa Rica and Cuba, which secured them second in the group. That meant a semi-final game against the USA, which they lost, but they took it all out on Panama, and after an impressive game they secured the WC-spot after a penalty shootout.

Jamaica Women's National Team
The Jamaican team celebrates, sketch by The Matchday Lookbook.

Jody Brown is a name to remember in this team. The 16-year-old was voted best young player of the tournament in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and in the vital game against Panama, she scored one of the goals. She has an eye for the game and even though she’s still so young, she has already heavily influenced the team with her skills and she can bring a lot to the table for Jamaica in France.  Another player to be on the lookout for is the 19-year-old goalkeeper Sydney Schneider, who pulled out some amazing saves in the tournament to keep Jamaica on track to the World Cup. Khadija Shaw has been a force of nature in the Jamaican game for a long time, and when she was only 14 years old, she represented Jamaica’s U-15, U-17 and U20 football teams. In the WC qualification tournament, she scored an incredible 11 goals in nine games. Other names to keep an eye out for is Dominique Bond-Flasza, Trudi Carter and Sashana Campbell. The squad is very young and the average age is just under 23 years.

A lot of credit shall go to the head coach, Hue Menzies, as well as his assistant Lorne Donaldson, as the pair have managed to get the team to climb 66 places in the FIFA international rankings in only 12 months, starting out on 119th place at the end of 2017, only to now sit in 53rd place. When the team was playing the CONCACAF Women’s Championship in October 2018, both coaches were employed on a voluntary basis by the JFF and only their expenses were covered.

“We want to help give back to the country because of what the country has done for us in football, so we volunteer our time,” Menzies said to The Jamaica Gleaner in August last year.

The team usually plays in a 4-2-3-1 formation and have been very successful with this style of play this far.

Jamaica will travel to Scotland shortly before they make their way down the continent to France, and they will play the Scottish national team at 19:35 BST on 28 May at Hampden Park.

That’s an initial look at the Jamaican team, one of the four newcomers to the World Cup. In a group that contains veterans like Australia, Italy and Brazil, can they make any sort of impact? Discuss in the comments below!

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