Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz are now in a challenging position to qualify for next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.
The team managed to salvage a 1-1 draw against Panama on Wednesday at the National stadium but now faces a must-win situation against Guatemala to secure a spot in the Gold Cup prelims.
Panama took the lead in the 31st minute when Marta Cox converted a penalty, but Jamaica fought back, equalising with Shaneil Buckley’s 45th-minute strike, ensuring the teams shared the spoils.
The draw pushed Panama to seven points, securing their place in the inaugural women’s Gold Cup, while Jamaica, with only two points, needs a victory against second-placed Guatemala (four points) on Sunday to keep their Gold Cup hopes alive.
Despite the disappointment of not securing a win, interim Head Coach Xavier Gilbert expressed confidence in his team’s ability to overcome Guatemala.
In a post-match interview, he acknowledged the competitiveness of the game and emphasised the importance of not losing.
Gilbert stated, “We are still in with a shot; we just have to get the job done against Guatemala. In terms of speed and depth, we have a better unit, and so I fancy our chances more against Guatemala.”
The match started with a decent tempo, with Jamaica utilising their pace and athleticism to exploit wide channels.
Although they were more threatening in open play, they struggled to convert half chances. Melissa Johnson and Shaneil Buckley had opportunities in the first half but failed to test Panama’s goalkeeper, Yenith Bailey.
Panama, playing patiently, created a threat in the 28th minute when Marta Cox provided a through pass for Natalia Mills, but Serena Mensah, Jamaica’s goalkeeper, made a crucial intervention.
The turning point came when Lauren Reid’s challenge on Mills resulted in a controversial penalty decision by Honduran referee Melissa Borjas Pastrana, which Cox successfully converted.
Jamaica managed to level the score just before halftime when Malikae Dayes delivered a well-weighted cross from the left, finished expertly by Shaneil Buckley.
In the second half, Jamaica applied consistent pressure but struggled to create meaningful opportunities on goal. The best chance came in the 68th minute when Njeri Butts delivered a cross for Marlo Sweatman, whose shot lacked the power to beat Bailey.
As both teams nullified each other in their quest for a winner, the Reggae Girlz now turn their focus to the crucial showdown against Guatemala on Sunday, with hopes of securing a spot in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup prelims.
Remember to share this article on Facebook and other Social Media Platforms. To submit your own articles or to advertise with us please send us an EMAIL at: [email protected]