Reggae Girlz remarkable World Cup run ends in 0-1 defeat to Colombia

By August 08, 2023

Jamaica’s historic run at the Fifa Women’s World Cup, came to an end, as they conceded their first goal of the tournament which proved their undoing in a 0-1 loss to Colombia on Tuesday.

The Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, in Australia, where the Reggae Girlz etched their names in the annals of global sporting history, when they denied the mighty Brazil in a goalless draw last week, has ironically become the place of their own farewell, courtesy of captain Catalina Usme’s decisive strike in the 51st minute.

Though it was their most underwhelming performance of the tournament, in which they also held France to a goalless stalemate and defeated Panama 1-0, the Reggae Girlz had much to take heart from, as their run on this second-consecutive appearance, described by many as a fairytale, was nothing short of remarkable.

By virtue of merely making the Round of 16, the 43rd-ranked Jamaicans became the first Caribbean nation –male or female – to play in the knockout stages of the World Cup, since Cuba’s feat in 1938.

Still, for Head coach Lorne Donaldson, that meant very little to ease the disappointment. Instead, his focus was more on how they can capitalise on the successes of this tournament to not only sustain, but more importantly, build the programme going forward.

“It was a decent game, but Colombia played better so they deserve the win. We played hard and it has been a good run for us…nobody likes to lose but Colombia threw the knockout punch. We knew if we gave up a goal, we had to score goals and we didn’t do that.

“So like I said, it was an amazing run, an amazing feat and I am happy for the Girlz that they got here but give Colombia credit,” Donaldson said in a post-game interview.

“I don’t care about history; I just want us to build on what we just did. We can be better, so let us just build on this,” he added.

Captain Khadija “Bunny” Shaw echoed similar sentiments.

“We didn’t perform as well as we should have so we will just have to come together as a group, not just individually, but as a group and look at what we did wrong so we can perfect it going forward. This run means a lot though and it shows that if you believe and you work hard, then anything is possible,” said Shaw.

“We came out, we held our own and we played hard, but its football, you win some and you lose some. We just have to lift our heads high be proud of ourselves, as you can see the gap is closing between the small islands and the bigger countries so this just goes to show that women’s football is growing and we have to keep moving forward and keep pushing it and hopefully we can get it as far as possible,” she stated.

After playing out a goalless first half where chances were at a minimum, in front of a massive crowd of over 27,000 dominated by Colombians, it was only fitting that the South Americans gave them something to cheer about, and that they did.

With only six minutes on the clock after the resumption, a delightful long ball from Ana Guzman to switch the point of attack, deceived Jamaica’s left-back Deneisha Blackwood, who stepped too early and was beaten by the flight leaving Usme on marked at the far post.

While Blackwood gradually recovered to apply some semblance of pressure, the 33-year-old Usme, was cool, calm, collected and steered a left-footer past Rebecca Spencer, who was beaten for the first time this tournament.

That goal was the wakeup call the Jamaicans needed to inject some tempo into their attacking thrust and they could have immediately pulled level from a set play.

This, as Blackwood’s weighted free kick found Jody Brown at the far post, but the diminutive forward slammed her header at the base of the upright.

The introduction of Tiffany Cameron added some impetus to Jamaica’s attack, which was well off colour, as they struggled to complete passes and create anything too meaningful to worry the Colombians.

In fact, their next best effort came in the 82nd minute when Cameron’s weighted cross from the right, fell nicely for Spence, whose header just went wide of the right upright.

Donaldson signalled his intentions to go for broke with the introduction of 19-year-old World Cup debutant Kameron Simmonds and the experience Cheyna Matthews in attack, but the move proved fruitless.

Instead, it was Colombia that almost had another when a dangerous cross from Usme, dipped well enough for Leicy Santos, who applied a timely diving header that had Spencer beaten, but couldn’t beat the left upright five minutes from time.

The Jamaicans will next turn their focus to the upcoming Olympic qualifying playoff fixtures against Canada in September.

Teams: Jamaica –Rebecca Spencer, Allyson Swaby, Chantelle Swaby, Deneisha Blackwood, Tiernny Wiltshire (Cheyna Matthews 83rd), Drew Spence, Vyan Sampson (Peyton McNamara 79th), Jody Brown (Kameron Simmonds 83rd), Trudi Carter (Tiffany Cameron 67th), Kalyssa Van Zanten (Atlanta Primus 46th), Khadija Shaw

Subs not used: Sydney Schneider, Liya Brooks, Havana Solaun, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Solai Washington, Konya Plummer, Kayla McKenna

Booked: C Swaby (41st), Spence (45+1)

Colombia –Catalina Perez, Daniela Arias, Diana Ospina, Lorena Bedoya, Mayra Ramirez, Leicy Santos (Daniela Montoya 87th), Catalina Usme (Marcela Restrepo 90+2), Ana Guzman, Carolina Arias, Linda Caicedo, Jorelyn Carabali

Subs not used: Sandra Sepulveda, Natalia Giraldo, Camila Reyes, , Angela Baron, Lady Andrade, Monica Ramos, Ivonne Chacon, Daniela Caracas, Elexa Bahr

Booked: D Arias (70th)

Referee: Kate Jacewicz (AUS)

Assistant referees: Kyoungmin Kim (KOR); Joanna Charaktis (AUS)

Fourth official: Marta Huerta (ESP)

Sherdon Cowan

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

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