Jamaica U17 women aim to go distance

Jamaica under-17 women's head coach Merron Gordon is hoping to lead his team to the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Costa Rica. (Photo: Mexsport)


MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica --- If the sky is truly the limit, then that is where Jamaica’s Under-17 Reggae Girlz have set their sights.

Though they have never qualified for a FIFA competition, the Jamaicans aim to do just that this time around.

Playing at home and kick-starting their CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship with a 2-0 win over El Salvador in picturesque Montego Bay on Wednesday, the first piece in pursuit of the elusive dream is in place. 

“The goal must be for us to try and qualify for Costa Rica, that is our long-term plan and that is what we are pursuing here,” head coach Merron Gordon told CONCACAF.com.

He made the point that to advance to Costa Rica for next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, more than just a romantic desire will be required.  Hardcore football fundamentals must be applied on the field of play.

“Football is a tactical business,” Gordon said.  “Therefore, we have to approach each game in a different way.  You can’t have the same approach for every game.  We have to scout teams and players and plan to break down other teams and at the same time keep our team very organized, and, hopefully, with that we can go to Costa Rica next year.”

The last time that the finals of a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying competition was hosted on Jamaica’s north-western tourism belt, success was the name of the game as the Under-17 men’s side clinched a spot at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.

Gordon is hoping that lightning will strike in the same place once more, but he is keeping in mind the stark realities of the game.

“Certainly playing at home will be an advantage, but in football, as you know, that is not always good enough,” he continued.  We have to do the work on the field at the end of the day.”

But an historic qualification to a Women’s World Cup, argued the coach, would have a greater impact on the game in Jamaica than just the sheer glory of creating history. 

“That would take women’s football to the highest level, but the girls have always been knocking at the door,” noted Gordon.  “In our group setting we normally have quality and high-ranking teams like the USA, Canada and Mexico to contend with, so to come out of this grouping and go to a World Cup would change the whole structure of female football in Jamaica.

“It would change the whole attitude of corporate Jamaica to this version of the sport and it would also change perceptions about the game in our country, and hopefully we can qualify and change a lot of these things.”

Reflecting on the victory against El Salvador, which was secured with a double from Florida-based Asia Lee-Fatt, Gordon expressed measured satisfaction as he rued missed goal-scoring opportunities.

“The girls passed the ball really well today and we created a lot of opportunities where we could have won by five goals, but we just didn’t know enough in front of the goal,” stated Gordon.  “I think some of the girls still have some butterflies in their stomach, which I think is caused from inexperience, but hopefully by the next game we would have solved that.”

Jamaica will next play Haiti on Friday in another 6:00 pm (local) kick off.

“The Haitians are very aggressive, but in speed I think we have the edge over them, and I think we have to be aggressive on the ball and use all our advantages and conquer them,” concluded Gordon.

Jamaica leads Group A with three points, while Mexico and Haiti share second with one apiece following their opening day 1-1 draw in the Wednesday’s curtain-raiser. 

Only the tournament’s two finalists will qualify for the FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, joining hosts Costa Rica as the three CONCACAF representatives.