Action from the CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship match between Jamaica (yellow) and Mexico on November 3, 2013, in Montego Bay, Jamaica. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- Jamaica can expect no favors when it faces Canada in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship at the Montego Bay Sports Complex’ Catherine Hall Stadium on Thursday evening.
And nobody knows this fact more than technical coordinator of Jamaica’s women’s football program, Vin Blaine.
A World Cup berth is at stake, and Blaine’s Young Reggae Girlz will have to work tooth and nail if they are to conquer perennial contenders Canada and book an historic spot to Costa Rica 2014.
“Canada will always be tough and it doesn’t matter how you see them play prior, because when they come up against Jamaica, it’s different because they believe that we should not beat them,” said Blaine, as he sized up the opposition ahead of kick off. “In this case they, too, are fighting for a spot to the World Cup, so I know they are going to come hard.”
Of the four semifinalists --- the United States and Mexico will meet in the first match of the doubleheader --- only Jamaica has never advanced past the group phase.
“We have nothing to lose and nobody expected us to be here, so we have to use that to our advantage,” Blaine said. “We know if we fight and play a disciplined game, I know we can get them.”
Blaine, who has been around women’s football for more than 15 unbroken years at one level or another, suggested that victory over the North American powerhouse will be entrenched in a high-class tactical delivery.
“Every single thing will be tactical as we try to see how we are going to break down this Canada team. I start at 4 o’clock in the morning working on how we are going to achieve this as it’s my job to find out exactly how the Canadians play and how we are going to counter them,” he outlined.
Blaine noted he has a sense that the time is at hand to for tiny Jamaica to bring down a giant of the women’s game, after years of agonizingly coming up short in CONCACAF tournaments.
“For Jamaica to get to the World Cup means we would have to crack one of them (CONCACAF’s top teams) and that’s what we face right now in this qualifying tournament, Blaine explained. “The downfall over the years is that simply we have come against better teams, with stronger programs and all round support, it’s always going to be tough.”
A victory Thursday evening, he says, would launch Jamaica’s women’s football to a plateau where only dreams have taken the girls before.
“When it comes to women’s football, we have to achieve first before we get the kind of support we need to move the women’s game,” he expressed. “I can tell you that people are just waiting for us to get to the World Cup to come on board and give us the support, and based on what we have done so far, I am sure you will see more sponsorship coming in.”
The winners of both semifinal encounters will book spots to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica next March.