Ready for the French test: Donaldson's Reggae Girlz hunt first ever World Cup point at Les Bleues expense

By July 22, 2023
Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson (left) and player Atlanta Primus during a pre-game press conference at Sydney Football Stadiumon Saturday. Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson (left) and player Atlanta Primus during a pre-game press conference at Sydney Football Stadiumon Saturday.

After months of preparation and anticipation, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz wait to wet their feet at a second-consecutive Fifa Women’s World Cup, is now over.

They kick off their Group F campaign hopeful of getting their first ever point on the board at the global showpiece, but doing so against an experienced France squad that is well versed in the challenges that the World Cup presents, will by no means be easy.

France obviously enters Sunday’s contest scheduled for 5:00 am Jamaica time, at Sydney Football Stadium as strong favourites with Les Bleues currently fifth in the Fifa rankings, while Lorne Donaldson’s Reggae Girlz sit at number 43.

However, Donaldson would readily tell you that rankings mean very little and while they proudly wear the underdog tag, they are not to be taken lightly.

“We have been training for this match for the last few weeks, obviously France is one of the top five teams in the world, they have been to a few World Cups, and I think they are one of the favourites right now. But our preparation has been good throughout, so hopefully we can come out, put up a good fight and show the world what we can do,” Donaldson said in a pre-game press conference.

 “I don’t want to give much away in terms of our tactics, we are going to just come out and adjust to what they are doing and just put up a fight and just figure things out as we go along,” he added.

Though Hervé Renard's French side have picked up six wins from their last eight outings, including wins over Norway, Denmark and Ireland earlier this month, the Reggae Girlz have highlighted their ability to turn up when it matters most.

It is that unpredictability along with the presence of prolific striker Khadija “Bunny” Shaw that Donaldson believes will spark some semblance of fear in the opponents.

“I think anytime you get into this (big game) situation there is always pressure. We can say we don’t have nothing to lose, but we still want to play well and make our country proud, and the players feel the same way that they want to get something out of the game. So, I don’t know if France has more pressure than us but there is pressure both ways,” Donaldson opined.

“The French team has a new coach they haven’t played a lot of game under the new coach so we can’t look back at the old France team, some of the players are the same and there are new players and they have played more games than us recently. So, we have to study those games to see how we approach the game. It’s a new enthused and energetic French team, different mentality and different style of play,” he noted.

Though he is yet to confirm his starting team, it is likely that Donaldson and his assistants could lean towards a 4-3-3 formation, which would see Tottenham Hotspurs’ Rebecca Spencer in goal, shadowed by Swaby sisters Chantelle and Allyson in the heart of defence, flanked by Tiernny Wiltshire on the right and Deneisha Blackwood on the left.

Havana Solaun, Drew Spence and Atlanta Primus, could marshal the midfield, while Shaw could possibly be joined by Jody Brown and Cheyna Matthews in the three-pronged attack.

Meanwhile, the England-born Primus, who will be among a number of players making their World Cup debut, pointed out that the team is raring to go.

“We are very much here to play and our primary focus is the game tomorrow against France. I am super excited, we have been working hard to prepare as much as we can for this, so our attention and focus is very much on that,” she said.

“Obviously Bunny is the top striker from last year and she is coming off an incredible season in the WSL, so I think she will enter the tournament with great confidence and for us as a team it is great to have her on our side because it’s a matter of scoring goals to win games so hopefully, she can sparkle,” Primus added.

After France, the Girlz will engage Panama on July 29 and Brazil on August 2.

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

Related items

  • Kerr signs new two-year contract with Chelsea Kerr signs new two-year contract with Chelsea

    Chelsea striker Sam Kerr has signed a new two-year deal until 2026, the club announced on Thursday.

    Kerr, whose contract was due to expire at the end of the Women's Super League season, has scored 99 goals in 128 matches since joining from Chicago Red Stars in 2019.

    The 30-year-old has played a huge role in the success of Emma Hayes' side in recent years, winning five consecutive league titles along with three FA Cups, two League Cups and the Community Shield. 

    During the 2022-23 campaign, Kerr scored 29 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions, making her 100th appearance for the Blues in the process. 

    The striker has not played since January because of an anterior cruciate ligament injury and has been ruled out of the Australia squad for this summer's Olympics in Paris.

    "It’s really exciting and a very proud moment for me," Kerr said after putting pen to paper on her new deal. "Having the opportunity to stay at a club like Chelsea means a lot to me. I’m really excited to continue to push and to try to win trophies."

    Since arriving in England, Kerr has claimed the Golden Boot twice and was runner-up to Spain's Aitana Bonmati at the Ballon d'Or awards last year.

    Kerr would also become the first player to be awarded the Football Writers’ Association Women’s Footballer of the Year prize twice in a row. 

  • USA are ready for Copa America following Brazil draw, says Berhalter USA are ready for Copa America following Brazil draw, says Berhalter

    Gregg Berhalter has said that the United States are ready for the Copa America following their 1-1 draw with Brazil on Wednesday. 

    Berhalter's side concluded their preparations for the tournament with an improved display in Florida, having lost 5-1 to Colombia three days prior.

    Many feared the worst as Real Madrid's Rodrygo gave the visitors an early advantage, but Christian Pulisic's second half free-kick was enough to share the spoils, as Matt Turner made 11 saves in the contest, the most by a USA keeper since Tim Howard in the 2014 World Cup. 

    "We asked for teamwork and intensity," Berhalter said. "The way we framed it is two things that are totally in their control. It doesn't matter about the opponent, it doesn't matter about the field, the fans or anything.

    "That's the type of effort that we saw today. The boys certainly did really well on that and that was good. We feel like we made a little step."

    The USA kickstart their Copa America campaign on June 23 against Bolivia in Arlington, before taking on Panama and Uruguay in Group C. 

    Berhalter believes the result against the five-time World Cup winners is a little step on the way to being successful against the better teams on the international stage. 

    "It's not a huge step, but it's a little step to be able to play against an amazingly talented Brazil team and bend but not break," Berhalter added.

    "And give them problems as well, push them as well. So for us, looking at it, we think it's a good end to a preparation camp when we're ready for Copa."

  • United States 1-1 Brazil: Pulisic free-kick caps Copa America warm-up United States 1-1 Brazil: Pulisic free-kick caps Copa America warm-up

    The United States capped their Copa America preparations with a 1-1 draw against Brazil on Wednesday, with Christian Pulisic scoring a fine free-kick.

    USA captain Pulisic drilled a low effort beyond Alisson 26 minutes in, after a mazy run ended with him being chopped down by Wolves midfielder Joao Gomes on the edge of the area.

    A full-strength Brazil side had gone ahead nine minutes earlier when the lively Raphinha split the hosts' defence with a fine pass for Rodrygo, who beat Matt Turner at his near post.

    Rodrygo went close with an acrobatic effort shortly after half-time, but neither side was able to find a second-half winner, primarily due to the performances of Alisson and Turner.

    The Liverpool goalkeeper made a great stop to deny Pulisic shortly after the hour mark, and Turner responded by tipping Rodrygo's outside-of-the-boot effort to safety.

    Vinicius Junior fired across goal and off-target deep into stoppage time as the Selecao were made to settle for a draw 12 days out from their Copa opener against Costa Rica. The USA open their campaign against Bolivia in Texas on June 22.

    Data Debrief: Captain America strikes again

    If the USA are to enjoy a successful Copa campaign on home soil, they will need Pulisic to be right at it after an encouraging first season with Milan.

    He is developing a taste for scoring against CONMEBOL opponents, having now netted versus Bolivia, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela.

    He is just the third American man to achieve that feat, after Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.