Depleted Reggae Girlz scrape a point against Panama to keep a lifeline to W Gold Cup open

December 1 – Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz, who in the summer reached the knockout stages of the Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand, have missed out on automatic qualification for next year’s inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup after a 1-1 draw with Panama at home.

Placed third in the Concacaf W Championships in July 2022, the Reggae Girlz must now win their final group game away to Guatemala to qualify for a play-in slot in February.

Their fall from the leading group of women’s nations globally has been both rapid and dramatic.

The future of the Jamaican women’s programme has always been in doubt under federation president Michael Ricketts who has failed to finance a talented team that has proved it can compete with the best in the world. With little or no support from Ricketts, the women have self funded and relied on the generosity of donors, and in particular Cedilla Marley.

But what the players said was a lack of respect shown by the federation and the non-payment of their World Cup bonuses forced the entire World Cup squad to withdraw from the W Gold Cup qualifiers.

In the three matches played so far there has not been a single player from the World Cup squad that came to global attention in the summer. At the same time Ricketts has lavished money on his men’s team that in the November internationals qualified for the final four of the Concacaf Nations League and the 2024 Copa America that will be played in the US.

Against Panama the Jamaicans fell behind in the 30th minute after conceding a penalty which Marta Cox converted, before equalising just before halftime through Shaneil Buckley.

The draw gave them the vital point needed to keep them in W Gold Cup qualification running, if not automatic qualification. However, a rapidly improving Guatemalan women’s team stand in their way. On Sunday they will find if their second string have enough to keep Jamaica on the big stage.

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