DURBAN, South Africa, (CMC) – Players and support staff of the Jamaica Women’s National Team felt their mission was accomplished, after coming from a goal behind to draw 1-1 in a friendly international with South Africa Women’s National Team on Sunday.
Khadija Shaw equalised for the Reggae Girlz approaching the hour mark, after Linda Motlhalo had given Banyana, Banyana (as the South Africans are known) a 1-0 lead at half-time before a crowd of around 30,000 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Head coach Hue Menzies said he was now in a better position to make a decision on the final Jamaica WNT squad for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this June in France.
“We’re very close to arriving at our final squad,” he told the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper. “Obviously, we’ve gotta go back and meet with the technical staff.
“We’ve got a few technicalities that we got to wait on with FIFA, but once we get all that stuff sorted, we can finalise our roster. We’ll take 23 for the games, but we’ll take 26 on the trip.”
“That gives us an additional three players to be on that trip, and obviously, if somebody gets injured, we have those alternates there training.
Menzies and his technical staff had used the one-week trip to South Africa to assess a number of players, hoping to see if the squad could be strengthened for women’s football’s showpiece tournament.
“Some players played their way in, some players played their way out,” said Menzies. “That’s just the nature of the beast, but we feel like we got a true evaluation of the players.”
Jamaica came under pressure from early, but the South Africans came close to breaking the deadlock twice, when Jermaine Seoposenwe failed to finish off Refiloe Jane’s pass in the 20th minute and the upright denied Jane’s header from Lebogang Ramalepe’s cross a minute later.
Motlhalo made the breakthrough in the 27th minute for the home team, beating her marker to fire her side in front.
The Girlz had a chance to hit back before the half-time whistle, but they could not take advantage of their hosts’ defensive blunder in the 33rd minute.
Shaw brought them level in the 57th minute, when she ran past two defenders before beating hapless South African net-minder Andile Dlamini with a rasping shot just inside the 18-yard box.
Four minutes later, the Girlz had a huge slice of good fortune, when Leandra Smeda missed the chance to give the home team the lead, as she hit the crossbar, after the South African were awarded a penalty from a handled ball inside the penalty area.
Captain and central defender Konya Plummer said her side would have learnt a number of invaluable lessons as they prepare for the World Cup.
“What they came out with is definitely what we expected as they exposed us a lot, and that they exposed us showed that we definitely have to train harder and improve on some things,” she told the Jamaica Observer newspaper.
“I know there are always areas of my game that need improvement, but I am working on getting out there, trying to get better to make my team and country proud.
“We gave up a goal and a penalty, so as captain and playing in the defence that is something I have to deal with mentally in the game and how I could step it up.”
The Girlz have been drawn in Group C at the FIFA Women’s World Cup alongside Brazil, Italy and Australia. They will get their campaign started on June 9 against Brazil. They will play Italy on June 14 and Australia on June 18.