September 24 – Olympic champion Canada took a step closer to the Olympic Games after a 2-0 win over Jamaica on Friday in the opening game of a two-legged Olympic qualifier.
The victory will help erase memories of a disappointing World Cup. The Canadians dominated the match with Nichelle Prince opening the scoring in the 18th minute and Adriana Leon ensuring victory in injury time.
“We put a lot of attention on the mindset because I felt that was lacking and affected in the World Cup,” said coach Bev Priestman after the game.
“I told them to go out there today and, first and foremost, show that this team’s character is back. The football will take care of itself. We’ve been working hard on the pitch in that domain.
“But I felt the most important thing – to come to Jamaica, home crowd, they’re the team that’s been riding a high – is our character had to shine through. And I’m over the moon because I feel like it did.”
It was Canada’s first match after the global finals and a first-round exit that shocked the team. They were paired with Jamaica in a decisive two-legged qualifier after the United States won the Concacaf W Championship in 2022. The Canadians and Jamaicans finished as runners-up and in third place respectively.
The Reggae Girlz enjoyed an outstanding World Cup, reaching the round of 16 before falling against Colombia. After the elimination coach Lorne Donaldson left the future of the team in doubt and the Olympic Games look a step too far this time. The Canadians hold the upper hand hosting Jamaica in the return leg in Toronto.
“The job’s only half-done and I think that’s been the message to the players,” said Priestman. “I know this Jamaican group is going to come [north] and do everything, throw the kitchen sink [at us] because the Olympic Games are on the line. And [the] Olympic Games, not a lot of people get a chance to go to that.”
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