UPDATE Concacaf Women’s Championships: History! Jamaica qualify to Women’s World Cup

first_imgJamaica’s Reggae Girlz secured a nervy 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Panama to book their spot in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup after both teams played out a tense 2-2 draw in their Concacaf Women’s Championships third-place playoff in Frisco, Texas. Sixteen year-old Jody Brown thought she provided an extra-time winner to secure the historic qualification but for the Jamaicans were pegged back for second tie in the contest when Lineth Cedeno lifted a shot over Jamaican goalkeeper Sydney Schneider in the 115th minute to send both teams to the spot. Deneisha Blackwood, Ashleigh Shim, Christina Chang and Dominique Bond-Flasza all scored for the Jamaicans while Yomira Rios and Erika Hernandez scored for Panama with Cedeno and Kenia Villarreal saw their efforts saved by goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who was subbed in seconds before the penalty shoot-out. Jamaica now becomes the first Caribbean country to qualify for the Women’s World Cup and the first to send teams to both the male and female World Cup tournaments, after the Reggae Boyz famous qualification to the 1998 World Cup, which also took place in France. In a rainy opening few minutes in Frisco both teams started positively with some crisp passing and movement. It was the Jamaicans, who got the first sight of goal, when Khadija Shaw’s low drive from a Chinyelu Asher pull-back down the right touchline, was saved by Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey at her near post. The Jamaicans continued to enjoy good possession and showed from very early that they would pose a threat down the wide channels and it was from the left flank that the Reggae Girlz got their best opportunity after about 10 minutes on the clock. Shaw picked up a short pass from Deneisha Blackwood before playing a low cross to Giselle Washington, who forced an amazing save from Bailey, who tipped the Jamaican midfielder’s cross unto the right upright and getting up quick enough to keep a lobbed follow-up from crossing the line. The Jamaicans had to see off a few teasing runs from the clearly gifted Panamanians before finally taking the lead in the 14th minute after some smooth play down the right side from 16-year-old Jody Brown, who picked up a pass in space and floated a perfect cross to Shaw, who rose unbothered from the centre of the penalty box to head home. Allyson Swaby almost got a second for the Jamaicans in the 38th minute, but failed to make good contact at the back post on a flick-on from Shaw from a deep freekick. Panama started the second half by applying consistent pressure on the Jamaicans and got a much deserved equaliser in the 74th minute through a neat finish by Natalia Mills, who connected to a low diagonal pass, ran across her defender and squeezed her shot beyond Schneider and into the bottom corner at the far post. Kenia Villareal got a great chance to send the Panamanians in front but could only shoot straight at Schneider after finding herself unmarked at Jamaica’s front door. Jamaica should have been awarded a penalty when Ashleigh Shim was brought down, in what was eventually judged to be the edge of the box by the referee. The Jamaicans started the extra-time period in strong fashion and when Brown got on the end of a pass from Shim which found its way all across the field to her at the edge of the right side of the box, the teenager kept a cool head to finish calmly at the near post. Like they did during regulation time, the Panamanians responded well after going behind and started pressing the Jamaicans and working themselves into good goalscoring positions. Cedenio secured parity when she was played through by a deep pass before lifting the ball over the head of the onrushing Schneider. Panama will get another chance to advance to the FIFA Women’s World Cup when they play Argentina in a home and away play-off in November.last_img

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