The group stage of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup came to an exciting conclusion on Thursday night.

There were many excellent individual performances over the course of the group stage, yet these 11 players stood out the most at their respective positions.

Goalkeeper  

Jonathan Fonkel, Robinhood – Robinhood captured the top spot in Group B thanks in part to the efforts of Fonkel, who conceded just four goals while making 23 saves and 19 clearances.

Defenders  

Manuel Vidal, Moca – Vidal played a big role in Moca marching forward to the semifinals by making seven steals and nine clearances, plus scoring a goal.

Alierio Belfor, Robinhood – Sixteen clearances and six steals from Belfor was one of the many reasons why 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield winners Robinhood surged to a first-place finish in their group.

Justin Garcia, Defence Force – Garcia was one of the best passing defenders in the group stage, completing 92 percent of his passes while making eight steals and 10 clearances.

Midfielders

Clifford Thomas, Moca – Thomas was one of the anchors in the Moca midfield with seven steals while completing more than 90 percent of his passes.

Jalmaro Calvin, Cavalier – Calvin was seemingly everywhere for Cavalier. He scored two goals and chipped in three assists on the attacking end, and had a clearance and a steal on the defensive end.

Reon Moore, Defence Force – Moore performed at a high level in every match and finished with two goals, an assist and a steal.

Renske Adipi, Robinhood – Robinhood were in good hands with Adipi in midfield, evidenced by him completing 80 percent of his passes, scoring a goal and making four steals.

Forwards 

Shaquiel Bradford, Harbour View – Bradford wreaked havoc on defenses in the group stage and finished the four games with three goals and an assist.

Shaquille Cairo, Robinhood – The top scorer in the Shield with 10 goals followed that effort up with a five-goal haul in the Caribbean Cup group stage for Robinhood. He also had two steals.

Shaniel Thomas, Cavalier – Simply put; Thomas was breathtaking for Cavalier. He twice notched hat tricks during the team’s four games to help him finish with a tournament-leading seven goals. Defensively he helped, too, with three steals.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson says qualifying for next year’s Copa America is of utmost significance for the staff to properly polish the team’s playing style, as he again stressed the need for consistent improvement to drive their 2026 FIFA World Cup ambitions.

“I think we can, as a national team, improve a lot of areas. The JFF as well, I think can do a lot more, but we are closer to what the best national teams are doing. Playing style, I think we are getting there slowly, but in order to improve our playing style we have to work with the same players.

“So, I think we have found a core of players that we think we can continue working with and then we can develop a playing style,” Hallgrimsson declared during a press conference at the Jamaica Football Federation’s offices on Friday.  

Hallgrimsson’s sentiments came on Friday as he announced the addition of Charlton Athletic pair Karoy Anderson and Michael Hector to his 23-member Reggae Boyz squad for their upcoming Concacaf Nations League fixtures away to Grenada and Haiti on October 12 and 15, respectively.

London-Born midfielder, Anderson, 19, is a first-time call up, while Hector, 31, returns to the setup after an almost two-year absence.

Both, along with goalkeeper Kemar Foster, Dexter Lembikisa, and West Ham United’s Michail Antonio, replace goalkeeper Coniah Boyce-Clarke midfielder Kasey Palmer, forward Dujuan Richards and defenders Amari’i Bell and Ethan Pinnock, who all miss out due to injuries among other reasons.

“We cannot develop a playing style picking 12 new players every camp because then we would have to start over. Being a national team coach, we know that there are two training in a game, so there is not a lot of time to get the team on the pitch. So, in that case, I think we are doing well with the time, but again, if we want to continue to grow it is important to go to finals and go to Copa America and spend a month with the team to grow on and off the pitch,” Hallgrimsson shared.

The 56th-ranked Jamaicans, who bettered Honduras 1-0 and came-from-behind for a 2-2 stalemate with Haiti, both at the National Stadium, currently sit atop Group B in League A on four points, same as second-placed Cuba.

Victories in both games, would guarantee Hallgrimsson’s side a spot in next month’s quarter-final where they would face Canada or Costa Rica, provided Cuba does not surpass them on goal difference, should they too win their two encounters.

If the Boyz were to finish in the runners-up position, they would have United States or Mexico to contend with in their hunt for a Copa America berth. The 48th edition of the quadrennial international men's tournament is scheduled for June 20 to July 14, in the United States and will act as a prelude to the 2026 World Cup, also to be hosted in North America.

“We have a lot to improve on and we know that so now going for these tricky away matches, it's going to be a tough, tough task. To get into the quarterfinal is important for so many reasons because if we win that game, it will secure us to place in the semi-final and hopefully from there we will get to the final and that gives us the right to play Copa America next summer,” the tactician stated.

“So, for many reasons this is important for our team. Number one, to grow to play in tournaments that really will test us to play against the best teams. So, it is an important step for developing a good team to qualify for the World Cup in 2026. We want to put all our emphasis on this camp coming up and go for six points to finish top of the group,” he added.

“We have quite a few versatile players in the squad, and I think that is a benefit to a small nation like Jamaica. So, in our minds I think we have solutions to the problems, and we decided to go for a young player [Anderson] to look at this camp to see how we can manage him within the players group we have,” Hallgrimsson ended.

Squad: Andre Blake, Kemar Foster, Jahmali Waite, Javain Brown, Tayvon Gray, Di’Shon Bernard, Michael Hector, Greg Leigh, Adrian Mariappa, Damion Lowe, Dexter Lembikisa, Bobby Decordova Reid, Daniel Johnson, Joel Latibeaudiere, Kevon Lambert, Karoy Anderson, Demario Phillips, Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, Demarai Gray, Shamar Nicholson, Romario Williams, Renaldo Cephas

 

Hoilett represented Jamaica in the 440 yards (400m) at various championships, with the 1964 Olympics being the pinnacle of his career.

"Rupert was known as a hard worker with talent to boot. He was good enough to make the Olympic team even as a Kingston College schoolboy coming out of Boys Championships," said Garth Gayle. "We owe our current successes to athletes like Hoilett who toiled hard for success and lifted the name of Jamaica even when there was not much to gain from the sport. May his soul rest in eternal peace. Condolences to his family and friends," concluded Gayle.

Hoilett came to public attention at the Boys Championships when he won the the 440 yards race in 49.3 seconds, which at the time was the first sub-50-second clocking in the history of the event.

He would later book a place on the Jamaica team to Tokyo Olympics with an improved 49.1 seconds and was given the honour of carrying the nation's flag during the opening ceremonies.

In 2019, Hoilett’s property on Skibo Avenue in Kingston was damaged by fire.

Suriname's Robinhood used a strong second half to propel themselves past Dominican Republic outfit Atletico Pantoja in a 3-1 comeback victory to end the group phase of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup on a high at the Dr. Ir. Franklin Essed Stadion in Paramaribo, on Thursday.

Not only did Robinhood earn a spot in the Caribbean Cup semifinals with the win, but they also topped Group B, as they ended with nine points, two points ahead of Jamaican side Harbour View, who fell to the other Dominican Republic side Cibao FC.

Atletico Pantoja started strong came and a trip from Robinhood goalkeeper Jonathan Fonkel on Luis Espinal in the area in the 18th minute resulted in a penalty. Francisco Ortega stepped up and squeezed the spot kick past Fonkel for a 1-0 Atletico Pantoja lead.

The conversion brought Atletico Pantoja to within a goal of leapfrogging Robinhood in the group and getting the final semifinal spot, but the Surinamese hosts looked to answer and started peppering the Atletico Pantoja goal with shots.

Their persistence paid off in glorious fashion in the 57th on a sensational left-footed strike from Jamilhio Rigters from outside the area to even the score at 1-1.

Another pivotal moment came on the hour mark when Atletico Pantoja’s Wilman Modesta was sent off with a straight red card for a foul on Carlos Da Silva, leaving the visitors with 10 men.

Robinhood made the most of it and added an insurance goal in the 74th, as Renske Adipi slotted home a right-footed shot from outside the area for a 2-1 lead.

Shaquille Cairo then put the icing on the cake in the 81’ by stabbing home a cross from the left flank to complete the 3-1 scoreline and secure Robinhood’s first-place finish in the group.

 

Cibao FC of the Dominican Republic ended their 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup on a positive note with a 2-1 victory over Harbour View of Jamaica in their Group B finale at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic on Thursday.

Despite the result, Harbour View advance to the semi-final as the second-place team in Group B with seven points, while Cibao finished third with four points.

Playing for pride, Cibao came out ready to battle and broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute when a free kick played into the area was flicked away with a defensive header, but the ball landed right to Yohan Parra, who swung in a shot past Harbour View goalkeeper Romario Palma for a 1-0 Cibao lead.

The momentum was with Cibao and on the half-hour mark Carlos Heredia was fouled in the Harbour View area, resulting in a penalty. Heredia calmly converted the spot kick, doubling the Cibao's advantage.

Harbour View were stunned but came to life toward the end of the half and Shaquiel Bradford turned in a rebound right before halftime to bring the visiting Jamaicans back into the encounter at 2-1 at the break.

Harbour View kept the pressure on in the second half and Cibao's goalkeeper Christopher Gonzalez somehow prevented an equalizer with a reaction save in the 72nd minute.

In the end though, the Cibao's defence held the line the rest of the way to nail down the victory.

"My sister, Shelly, won't let me give up on running," reveals Marie-Josee Ta Lou, the fastest woman in Africa, as she reflects on a remarkable season she describes as "great for me."

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, a three-time Olympic and 10-time world champion, serves as a constant source of motivation for Ta Lou. She reveals that the soon-to-be 37-year-old Jamaican icon is among the main reasons she plans to show up in Paris next year.

"She is constantly reminding me that she is older than me and she is still going strong. Her words are loud in my head every single day and she never gets exhausted of motivating me to wake every morning and do what I like,” the Ivorian speedster said. “Shelly-Ann is one of the many reasons you will see me in Paris for what could be my last Olympic Games."

While her love for the track spans a decade, Ta Lou acknowledges that her calling in athletics is greater than merely amassing medals.

Ta Lou, who achieved an African record time of 10.72 seconds during the 2022 Monaco Diamond League, making her the sixth-fastest woman of all time, has faced the heartache of coming agonizingly close to the podium at major championships. This season, she concluded the World Athletics Championships in Budapest with a fourth-place finish, a result that still stings.

"I wanted to get a medal but finished fourth. I have been in a situation where I have been crying alone in my room," Ta Lou reveals in an interview with the BBC. "The support I received from fans across the world and my fellow competitors has been my saving grace."

While Ta Lou is no stranger to narrowly missing out on top honors in athletics, she understands the profound impact she can have beyond the podium. She believes her calling extends to inspiring others to persevere and overcome the fear of failure.

"Sometimes I feel like my calling is different and way bigger than always being on the podium," she states. "It's about the hope I give to people to keep trying and about the legacy that I want to leave behind. I know there are people beyond athletics who see themselves through me in their daily struggles."

Ta Lou emphasizes that winning is not solely about crossing the finish line first but rather about the impact an athlete can have on people's lives. She aspires to be a beacon of the never-give-up spirit, encouraging others to pursue their dreams relentlessly.

Her journey has been marked by challenges, but Ta Lou maintains a positive outlook. She acknowledges the role of faith in her resilience, stating, "My strength comes from God," and sharing how quiet moments of meditation and prayer provide her with the vigor to persevere.

Despite moments of doubt and contemplating giving up, Ta Lou's motivation stems from the desire to make her mother proud, represent Africa, and inspire young girls on the continent to pursue their dreams. She sees herself as a source of light and hope for those facing complex challenges.

 

Young striker Shaniel Thomas registered a second hat-trick of the Concacaf Caribbean Cup, as he combined with Jalmaro Calvin to hand Jamaica's Cavalier FC a 5-2 win over host Golden Lion in their Group A curtain-call contest at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France, Martinique, on Wednesday.

Thomas, who earlier in the tournament became the youngest and first player to score a hat-trick when he achieved the feat against Dominican Republic's Moca FC last month, again proved too good in the final third for his French-speaking rivals on this occasion, and now has a Caribbean Cup-leading seven goals in four games. His combination with Calvin also ensured the Rudolph Speid-coached side topped the group on their way to the semi-final.

Cavalier could not have asked for a better start, as they quickly grabbed a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute, when Calvin's cross from the right wing took a wicked deflection off the foot of Golden Lion's defender Marvin Bellance, leaving goalkeeper Alan Rose wrong-footed, as the ball rippled the net.

Calvin continued to be a nuisance on the right flank and made a big impact again in the 14th minute with a dashing run that ended with a strong right-footed finish for a 2-0 lead.

The nippy Calvin added another notch to his first half belt with an assist on a Thomas goal in the 34th. In that build up, Calvin shook markers on the right channel before cutting back to Thomas, who swept in a shot past Rose to put Cavalier 3-0 up.

Thomas was once again at the right place at the right time in the 37th when an under-hit back pass allowed him to swoop in and score for a 4-0 Cavalier lead.

The Calvin-Thomas combination continued to wreak havoc on Golden Lion, who had no response to their onslaught. Calvin again played provider for Thomas, who applied another powerful finish in first half stoppage time, to put the Jamaicans 5-0 up at the break.

Golden Lion came out with a renewed purpose on the resumption and pulled one back in the 51st minute, through a Thierry Catherine header.

They added another in the 71st, courtesy of Wilfrid Charloton’s finish inside the area, but in the end the spoils and first-place finish in the group belonged to Cavalier.

Suriname side Robinhood will be looking to seal their spot in the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Club semifinals when they take on Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic in what is expected to be an intriguing Groub B showdown at the Dr. Ir. Franklin Essed Stadion in Paramaribo, o Thursday.

Robinhood currently sit in second position on six points, just one point behind leaders Harbour View of Jamaica, while Atletico Pantoja remain alive in the hunt for a semifinal berth, in fourth place on three points.

Robinhood can guarantee their semifinal place with a draw and could even capture group honours with a win, provided Harbour View drop points in their fixture against Cibao FC, also of the Dominican Republic.

However, an Atletico Pantoja win by a two-goal margin, would be enough to send them through to the Caribbean Cup semifinals ahead of Robinhood.

Needless to say, the night should provide plenty of great drama with so much at stake.

Robinhood have been buoyed by striker Shaquille Cairo, who has four goals in the tournament, making him the joint top-scorer along with Shaniel Thomas of Cavalier.

Cairo has been as consistent as they come, scoring in all three of Robinhood’s games and has gotten help from Tuur Don, who has two assists. Jamilhio Rigters also has contributed after scoring in their last outing, a 3-2 loss to Harbour View.

Atletico Pantoja have played to three straight 1-1 draws in the group, so they will need to break that streak with a full three points if they are to advance.

Jhon Mosquera has played a vital role as playmaker with two assists, while Ronaldo Vasquez has been one of the most active players in attack with 10 shots and 84 completed passes, along with two ball recoveries.

Jamaica's Harbour View will be looking to complete their mission of a first-place finish in Group B of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup, when they visit Cibao FC of the Dominican Republic at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago de los Caballeros, on Thursday.

Harbour View sit atop the group with seven points and have already clinched their spot in the semifinals, but they will need a victory at Cibao to assure themselves of group honours.

The East Kingston-based club has been excellent in the competition, opening with a 1-0 win against fellow Jamaican side Dunbeholden, before a 1-1 draw against Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic, and an exciting 3-2 win versus Suriname’s Robinhood.

Cibao opened with a point in a 1-1 draw with Atletico Pantoja but have suffered back-to-back defeats since then. However, the opportunity is there to end on a high note.

Facundo Guichon has shown that he can find the back of the net, having scored against Dunbeholden, while Jean Lopez has an assist and leads the team in ball recoveries (8) and passes (186).

Harbour View will counter with the dynamic duo of Omar Thompson and Shaquiel Bradford. Thompson has scored in two successive games, while Bradford bagged a second half brace to spearhead Harbour View’s comeback win versus Robinhood.

An epic showdown awaits in Group A of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup, as Trinidad and Tobago's Defence Force hosts Moca of the Dominican Republic in a winner-takes-all affair on at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, on Wednesday.

Moca go into the contest with the slight advantage, as they sit second in the group with six points, a single point ahead of Defence Force. The visitors from the Dominican Republic only require a draw to secure a semifinals berth, but a full three points could be enough to see them leap into first place, should currently leaders Cavalier falter in their visit to Golden Lion.

For Defence Force, the mission is straightforward; win and they are in. A full three points would guarantee a semifinals spot and could possibly be enough to win the group as well.

Moca have wins over Port of Spain (1-0) and Golden Lion (3-0) to put themselves in this position to advance, while Defence Force played to draws with Cavalier (1-1) and Port of Spain (1-1) and earned a victory over Golden Lion (1-0).

Defence Force will be turning to the likes of Reon Moore, Jamali Garcia and Christopher Biggette to get the job done. In the tournament, Moore has a pair of goals and an assist, while Garcia has been a tireless worker in midfield with 152 passes completed and eight ball recoveries.

Biggette has been solid in net, making 13 saves, 10 clearances and recording a clean sheet.

Moca will be out to have a strong start to nail down a positive result and the duo of Gustavo Ascona and Victor Sanchez can help get them there. Ascona has a goal from six shots taken, while Sanchez is coming off a brace against Golden Lion.

No doubt an exciting contest awaits between two sides with everything on the line.

Jamaica's Cavalier will have their sights set on a first-place finish in Group A of the 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup when they pay a visit to Martinique to take on Golden Lion at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France, on Wednesday.

Cavalier, who currently occupies pole position in the group on seven points, one ahead of second-placed Moca of the Dominican Republic, and two in front of third-placed Defence Force from Trinidad and Tobago.

With Moca and Defence Force squaring off as well on Wednesday, Cavalier are assured of a top-two finish in the group and a place in the semifinals, but the Jamaican side will be keen to collect all three points and win the group.

After opening with a 1-1 draw at Defence Force, Cavalier rolled to victories in their next two games against Port of Spain (2-1) and Moca (3-0).

Leading the way has been Shaniel Thomas, who has four goals in the tournament, including a hat-trick against Moca, to lead the competition in scoring. Thomas has also drawn the most fouls for his side, with seven.

Jalmaro Calvin and Nicholas Hamilton have contributed to Cavalier’s attacking prowess as well, with Calvin scoring a goal and adding an assist and Hamilton with two assists.

Golden Lion will be trying to end their Caribbean Cup on a positive note, as they sit in fourth place in the group with three points, the lone win coming in a 3-2 final with Port of Spain.

As always, legendary Martinique striker Kevin Parsemain will be one for the Cavalier defense to watch. Parsemain has a goal and an assist in the tournament and has totaled 13 shots.

Marvin Bellance has enjoyed a good tournament with seven ball recoveries and Jordy Boriel is a striker also capable of finding the back of the net, having done so against Port of Spain.

 

Some of Jamaica’s most-talented young gymnasts have been selected to a National All-Stars School Team set to compete at the COPA IGA 2023 from October 5- 8th in Panama.  The 11 athletes will leave the island on Wednesday, October 4 with Coach Tristan Hall and manager Samantha Bell.

They are scheduled to return home on October 9.

The list of talented athletes includes: Adriannah Alexsis Bailey (Mount St. Joseph Preparatory School), Dojanae Ophelia Garwood (Mount Alvernia Preparatory School), Emma-Marie Antonnae Donaldson (St. Richards Primary School), Harmonie-Jade Isabella Johnson (Belair Preparatory School), Harmony Kimoya Burton (Dunrobin Primary School), Joelle Madison Williams (Mount Alvernia Preparatory School), Lashay Janoia Chutcan (Ardenne, formerly Marlie Mount Primary and Infant School), Leah Cowan (Immaculate Conception Preparatory School), Marisol Hogarth (American International School of Kingston), Roshanique Latanya Ricketts (Brixton Hill Primary and Infant School) and Selah Price (Immaculate Conception Preparatory School).

Coach Hall is very optimistic about the team assembled for the competition, stating, “As the head coach leading this all-star team to Panama I see great potential in each athlete. Our hard work, dedication, and strategic approaches have brought us to this opportunity and I am excited to witness the culmination of our efforts as we showcase our talent and determination in the upcoming meet. We will give it our all and make Jamaica proud.”

Team manager Bell echoed similar sentiments highlighting the fact that tremendous talents abounds within the island’s primary school system.

“Our All-Star team showcases the talent within our prep and primary schools. As team manager, my hopes are to see us cultivate raw talent, instill discipline, and nurture a culture of teamwork,” she said.

“I believe by fostering an environment where athletes can learn and grow, we can ultimately prepare them to represent our nation at the highest level of competition.”

Outgoing senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Lorne Donaldson stopped just short of saying he is the victim of a personal vendetta waged against him by Jamaica Football Federation’s (JFF) General Secretary Dennis Chung, as he refuted claims about how discussions to cut ties, transpired.

Donaldson in response to a widely circulated release by the JFF, pointed out that the decision not to renew his contract was by no means mutual, as the meeting with Chung and JFF’s Human Resource Manager Suzie George-Gayle, lasted a mere five minutes.

The JFF in its statement said, “after an extended discussion, both parties came to an agreement that the contract would not be renewed.”

But Donaldson in an interview with Sportsmax.tv, rubbished the claims.

 “He [Chung] said they are terminating me. There was no discussion. In a five-minute meeting, he just said congrats on everything and the next thing was, ‘we will not renew your contract.’ There was no reason why, or anything, he just said, we will not renew your contract,” he shared.

Donaldson, along with former Head coach Hue Menzies, was first introduced to the Reggae Girlz programme by women’s football ambassador Cedella Marley in 2015 and led the country to an historic first FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in France in 2019.

However, after departing the programme in 2020, following the steps of Menzies, who left earlier in 2019, Donaldson was reappointed in June 2022, to replace Vinimore “Vin” Blaine, who was forced to resign a few months into his tenure, after the Girlz expressed their displeasure with his leadership in a scathing letter.

Like he did in 2019, Donaldson again led the Reggae Girlz to the World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, where they had an historic run to the round of 16, after drawing with France and Brazil and defeating Panama in the group stage.

The Reggae Girlz eventually bowed out following a 0-1 loss to Colombia.

In their most recent fixtures, the Reggae Girlz suffered back-to-back losses to Canada in a failed bid to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, but the progress the team has made under Donaldson’s leadership is without question.

The tactician doesn’t believe he was judged on that basis.

“Another thing he said is that if they had done well with the Olympic qualifiers, we (the coaching staff) would have carried on. You don’t want to work in a condition where you are being judged based on one game and not your body of work. So, I guess what happened at the World Cup didn’t matter and it never really had anything to do with football,” Donaldson opined.

“It’s because I disagreed with the way they want to treat players and coaches, and I defended the Girlz. They have been waiting for the opportunity to do this (get rid of me) because they have been trying to do this from June,” he added.

The outspoken coach recalled a conversation in which he and Chung didn’t see eye-to-eye and he believes it was from that point that their relationship spiralled.

“From day one when he said women’s football will never catch on in Jamaica and people will never support women’s football, and I told him he is wrong, I realised the relationship has been topsy-turvy since then,” Donaldson revealed.

He continued: “He said nobody cares about women’s football in Jamaica and it doesn’t matter how bad the men’s team is, the men will get more support than the women. That was when we were trying to go to Australia for the (Cup of Nations) tournament and from that day I knew we are always going to be fighting for these Girlz because it revealed to me that they really don’t care about the Girlz.

“He was trying to justify why we shouldn’t have gone to the tournament in Australia, all because they were spending a little money, even though Australia was spending some money as well. And then he came up with these ridiculous flight prices and I said no, it is way less than that. And from February on, he was total against everything that we were doing.”

Despite sensing Chung’s perceived dislike, Donaldson explained that it was his duty as Head coach to remain resolute in his fight for the players, who sometimes felt disheartened by the show of support, or lack thereof, from the country’s governing football body in particular.

“We had to stand up for the Girlz and I stick to that. When they are right, we fought for them and when they were wrong, I told them. And then we had to make sure they had the resources that we can have them perform,” Donaldson said.

“It showed the other day when we didn’t have the proper equipment for them to train. There was no equipment on the first day of camp and stuff like that affected the Girlz because they didn’t feel the love. They kept saying people didn’t care.

“They just went to a World Cup and see all around the world how everybody (other countries) is speaking glowingly of their team, and they come to Jamaica and can’t even get the proper equipment,” he reasoned.

That said, Donaldson wished the JFF and Reggae Girlz well on their future endeavours, starting with the upcoming Concacaf Women's Gold Cup qualifying matches against Panama and Guatemala, next month.

“The JFF, whatever they have planned for the Girlz, I hope they are successful with it, and I wish them all the best from the bottom of my heart. They made a decision, and I am fine with that,” he declared.

“We have a great group of players that are going to come in, and what we have achieved is basically a scratch on the surface because the sky is the limit with this group of Girlz,” Donaldson ended.

Meanwhile, Chung when contacted about the allegations, was reluctant to address what transpired during the meeting.

“I don’t want to comment on those decisions (made during the meeting), I don’t know where those comments are coming from, but from an ethical point of view, I’m just not going to comment on it. We issued a release, and the release speaks for itself,” Chung told Sportsmax.tv.

However, he admitted to an extent that the February conversation in Montego Bay did happen, but not exactly how it was stated by Donaldson.

“I never said that people don’t care about women’s football, I don’t know where that is coming from. What I have said in the past is that no matter how well the women do, it seems like people tend to support the men more in terms of attendance at matches and that is something that has been said internationally. So, I was just echoing it because someone said it on a sports programme I was listening to,” Chung explained.

 “It is an unfortunate comment that he made, but I didn’t listen to it, because the fact is that the JFF has spent a lot more money on the women’s programme than the men’s programme and in terms of resourcing it, has given it equal footing, if not more.

“So, it’s a very unfortunate comment if that was said because when you talk about sponsorship, most of the sponsors have come in for the women’s programme, so that was very unfortunate,” he argued.

When asked about the possible timeline for Donaldson’s replacement given the significance of the upcoming fixtures, Chung said information should be forthcoming by Monday.

 “We are working to ensure that a team is in place so I’m sure that by Monday we will have that sorted in terms of what we are doing. So, something is being worked on and the JFF will communicate that,” Chung noted.

Jamaica's Dunbeholden ended their 2023 Concacaf Caribbean Cup campaign on a high note with a 2-1 victory against Cibao FC of the Dominican Republic in Group B action at the National Stadium on Thursday.

The result saw Dunbeholden FC complete their failed campaign with four points from their four games, while Cibao FC are eliminated from advancing with one match to play. It also ensured another Jamaican side Harbour View, a spot in the semifinals.

The first big chance came right before the half-hour mark in the 29th, when Dunbeholden’s Nicholas Nelson did well to evade a pair of defenders and round Cibao goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd but hooked his shot wide with two defenders stationed on the goal line.

Dunbeholden stayed on the front foot and Nelson looked almost certain to break the deadlock in the 41st, when alone one-on-one with Lloyd, but the veteran goalkeeper made the big-time save to keep things scoreless.

At the third time of asking in the first half, Dunbeholden broke the deadlock in the waning seconds before halftime when Nelson outraced a defender and played a simple ball across to Shakeen Powell, who had an easy sweep into net for a 1-0 lead.

Cibao woke up in the second half and pulled even 1-1 in the 55th on a sensational left-footed volley from Facundo Guichon off an inch-perfect cross from Lean Torres.

But Dunbeholden answered right back and went back ahead 2-1 in the 63rd, when Rohan Brown nodded home a header at the back post.

From there, the Dunbeholden defense did the rest to keep the Cibao attack at bay and nail down the three points.

With their Concacaf Olympic qualifying chapter now closed, as they failed to rewrite the history books, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Girlz and coaching staff will not only have to pick up the pieces, but also come up with new ideas to ensure the programme's continued progress, as they now shift focus to the Gold Cup qualifying campaign.

The Girlz, who were seeking to become the first Caribbean nation to qualify for women's football at the Olympic Games, suffered a 1-4 aggregate defeat to reigning Olympic champions Canada after 0-2 and 1-2 losses across the two-leg home-and-away playoff.

Those victories ensured Canada the second automatic spot for both the Olympic Games and Gold Cup respectively, joining United States, who were already qualified by virtue of topping last year's Concacaf Women’s Championships in Mexico. 

For the Girlz it is back to the proverbial drawing board with much to contemplate, as their defence, particularly on the left, and midfield in the playoff fixtures, were a shadow of what it was when they held Brazil and France to goalless stalemates at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia.

While they are expecting the Girlz to bounce back against Panama and Guatemala next month, assistant coach Xavier Gilbert says it is hard for the coaching staff to really think too far ahead, as uncertainty surrounds the renewal of their contracts which expire on Saturday. 

"It's difficult to say what our plans are going forward. Our contract ends on the 30th of September, and we are yet to hear anything from the Jamaica Football Federation, so we don't know what will happen after this. We don't know if we will be the staff in charge of the unit, but it's still a good unit and I think they are going to do well against those opposition next month regardless," Gilbert told SportsMax.tv.

Reflecting on the performances against Canada, Gilbert, though admitting their shortcomings in certain areas, credited the Girlz for the fight shown, particularly in Tuesday's second-leg at a sold-out BMO Field in Toronto. 

"I think the performance wasn't bad. We wanted to score at least one before the half-time break and we got that go-ahead goal. Unfortunately, we conceded, and I think that set us back again, but it was a good effort, and it just goes to show how much we are growing in the region and on the world stage.

"So, I have to give the Girlz credit, they held their own in a hostile environment…yes, there were some lapses in concentration and there was an overload on the left side again and when you make certain errors you pay the price, especially against quality opposition and that's what happened last night," Gilbert reasoned.

"I don't think the issue is only at the left back because we know what they (Canada) were doing and we should have prevented that. The Canadian team did well the way they pulled our left back out and exploited the spaces behind. But we have to give more help and support in in that area and then we also have to be a little bit more positive on that side too, so that we can push the overlap and get forward more often," he added.

On that note, Gilbert revealed that the players accepted responsibility for the lukewarm performance and, by extension, not being able to give the country something more to celebrate.

“They are disappointed because they really wanted to make the country proud. Some of them even broke down in tears after the game, but we just have to pick ourselves up and go again,” Gilbert shared.

He continued: “Like I said, we did well in terms of where we are on the world stage right now because playing against Canada, everybody would have expected at least 4-0, as those are the defeats that we used to get against these oppositions. So I believe we are now closing the gap and things are changing and those are the positives that we have to take from this.

“We are getting closer and closer because again, no one would have thought, even years gone by and probably even now, that we would have been so competitive against Canada, who are the defending Olympic champions, so let’s not forget that.”

Finally, Gilbert pointed out that should the Lorne Donaldson-led remain in charge of the programme, they will be aiming to add more players to the pool, to not only remedy their defensive and midfield concerns, but also to ensure continuity.

“For sure, we want to continue on the same path widen the pool of players, especially in certain areas that we think we need it and continue to give other players opportunities so that we can have a wider pool to select from and make it more competitive in every position,” he ended.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.