Canada will face its toughest test of the Concacaf W Championship tournament on Thursday when they face Jamaica in a semi-final match at the Estadio Universitario in Monterrey, Mexico.
The winner will advance to the final on Monday to face either the United States. or Costa Rica, with a chance to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games at stake.
Canada, the reigning Olympic gold medalist and sixth team in the world, topped Group B with a perfect 3-0-0 record, scoring nine goals without allowing any. Jamaica, ranked No. 51 in the world, finished second in Group A with a 2-1-0 record, scoring five goals and allowing five – the five against having come in the 5-0 loss to the United States .
As Canada prepares for the Reggae Girlsplayers like Quinn are fully aware that Jamaica will present offensive threats that Canada has yet to see in the tournament.
“I think we’re really excited to play Jamaica again,” Quinn told reporters on Wednesday. “I think since the last time we played them they have added some very high quality players to their roster. They have a lot of players now playing in the top flights, in the United States and in England. I think it’s going to be an exciting game. They will give us unique threats. That being said, I think we can manage these threats. We are really excited for another game and another opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
Canada is 8-0-0 against Jamaica, having edged them 57-1.
The previous meeting between the two countries ended in a 9-0 victory for Canada in the 2020 Concacaf Olympic qualifiers. Jordyn Huitema scored five goals and Janine Beckie had a hat trick.
This time, Canada expects a much tighter game. Jamaica have improved on and off the pitch. They have players competing in the NCAA, National Women’s Soccer League, WSL in England and Damallsvenskan in Sweden.
“They have quick, offensive threats that we need to deal with,” Canada head coach Bev Priestman told reporters on Wednesday. “Our back line, you might say, is world class… can hopefully cope with that. I expect them to make things difficult, to be compact; we’ve seen that from them across all the games. As long as we can deal with their threats. Bunny Shaw scores week in and week out for big threat Manchester City. I think if we can bring what we brought against Costa Rica, that level of intensity in terms of getting the ball back, prefacing our style in that sense, it allows us to have more ball. If we bring that, then we can get a match win.
Canada could have their hands full if Jamaica can come out in transition and use their speed to fall behind and potentially create scoring chances.
Shaw is currently tied with Canadian Julia Grosso for the tournament lead with three goals. Grosso did not take part in Canada’s 2-0 win over Costa Rica on Monday.
Shaw, 25, is considered one of the best strikers in football. If Jamaica wants to be successful against Canada, Shaw will have to make the difference.
Canada’s back four, Jayde Rivière, Kadeisha Buchanan, Vanessa Gilles and Ashley Lawrence, did a good job of blocking the opposition attack. If they can stay above Shaw and his teammates, Jamaica could be challenged to break through with a goal.
Priestman knows Jamaica’s attack goes through Shaw. Whether scoring goals or grooming teammates, Shaw is Jamaica’s most dangerous threat
“I think it’s not hidden [secret] that she’s good in the air, that she can spin, move quickly with the ball, that she can tie things up,” Priestman said. “She can also run behind. I think being aware of the threat and dealing with it is basically what we need to do. It’s not just Bunny Shaw; there are players running from Bunny and feeding on his strengths. The good news is that some of our players know her well and have handled her well, but she is a threat and we have to show that respect as we always do with our opponent.
The team that can sit down and absorb the most pressure without collapsing and allowing a goal has a good chance of advancing to the Concacaf W Championship final. Canada have shown they can play defensively and score just enough goals. Jamaica are still looking to break through against Concacaf heavyweights USA and Canada. They will have another chance on Thursday.
Content reserved for subscribers