Johnson, Jamaica U17 women look to push forward

Jamaica's Jessica Johnson (pictured) scored two goals in a 3-0 win over Haiti in a CONCACAF Women's Under-17 Championship match on November 1, 2013, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  (Photo: Mexsport)


MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica --- Jamaica’s Jessica Johnson is over the moon.

And no one could blame the precocious the 15-year-old for soaring at this time as she is in the height of celebrating two quick-fire goals in the CONCACAF Women’s Under-17 Championship at the Montego Bay Sports Complex’s Catherine Hall Stadium.

Her strikes (53’, 72’) against Haiti on Friday helped her Reggae Girlz team to a comfortable 3-0 victory, and catapulted the host into the semifinals of the World Cup qualifying tournament.

Asia Lee-Fatt scored the other goal in the eighth minute to get the ball rolling for the bubbly Jamaicans. 

“It is great to know that in my fifth international match I was able to score two goals… it really feels good,” said Johnson, who added that listening and following the instructions of the coach have paid dividends.  “I was like thinking that if my coach was not strict with me I wouldn’t be where I am today.”

With her appetite for goals whetted, Johnson is already nibbling at the prospects of getting a few more.  

“I am just going to go into that game pressing for the ball and to use my strength of passing and moving the ball and hopefully getting some more goals,” she noted.

Her goal hunt continues with Jamaica’s final Group A game against Mexico on Sunday.

When Jamaica takes to the field in Thursday’s semifinal, it would be one win away from an historic qualification to a FIFA World Cup.

Johnson, already, is savoring the mouthwatering possibilities.

“To go to the World Cup would be the greatest thing to happen to me, especially knowing that I would be the first in my family to represent myself at the World Cup,” she beamed.

Jamaica’s semifinal opponents will be either Canada or the defending champion United States, but Johnson feels no fear for the formidable sides.

“The players on our team are really good and I think we can beat Canada or the USA because we have the potential to do so, plus we would go extra against them,” she said with an air of confidence.

Another outstanding Jamaica player, midfielder Khadija Shaw, commented that qualifying for Costa Rica 2014 would be the crowning moment of her young life.

“It would mean a lot knowing that I would be on the team that would be going to the World Cup for the first time, and seeing what the World Cup is like and playing against other teams,” said the 16-year-old.

Shaw, who was named the Most Valuable Player in the just-concluded CFU Under-20 Championship in Kingston, said while she doesn’t mind scoring goals, she will leave the field of play happy knowing her team has won the game.

“As long as my team is on top, goal-scoring doesn’t matter to me as long as we are winning, that’s what’s important to me and that makes me happy,” she expressed.

Jamaica leads Group A with six points and concludes its first-round schedule on Sunday against second-place Mexico, needing only a draw to seal the top spot.

The competition’s semifinal winners progress to the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, which will be played next year in Costa Rica.