Bermuda hunt positive result against Jamaica in Women’s World Cup qualifier
LeiLanni Nesbeth and Jody Brown will put their friendship aside when Jamaica hosts Bermuda in a Concacaf Women’s World Cup qualifier Group C match at the National Stadium tonight.
The pair are team-mates of the No-1 ranked Florida State University Seminoles who clinched the NCAA championship title in Santa Clara, California in December.
But now the two forwards will be battling against each other for their respective countries in the opening group match which sees the group favourites Jamaica aiming to make the most of home advantage.
Bermuda have taken a strong squad to Jamaica, a squad that national coach Naquita Robinson describes as the strongest senior team selected to represent the country since she got involved with the national programme in 2012.
“Probably ever, if I’m being honest,” Robinson told The Royal Gazette last week.
A recent article on YouTube rated the top under-23 female players from each Caribbean island with Nesbeth, 20, the Bermuda pick and the 19-year-old Brown selected as Jamaica’s top player. Certainly the pair will have key roles to play up front in tonight’s opening group match.
Bermuda’s other forwards will be Nia Christopher, Katelyn Medeiros, Trinae Edwards and Symira Lowe-Darrell, who will be relying on support from midfield from the likes of co-captain Eva Frazzoni, Aaliyah Nolan, Emily Cabral, Keunna Dill, Jya Ratteray-Smith and Khyla Brangman.
Marley Christian, the other co-captain, will be the experienced player in defence along with the likes of Danni Watson, Jaden Masters, Koa Goodchild, and Zemira Webb. Tonight’s match starts at 7pm Bermuda time.
Jamaica, the 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup qualifiers, will go into the match without several players who featured at that tournament in France, with captain Konya Plummer, wide player Deneisha Blackwood, and Havana Solaun, who got the country’s only goal at the event, not being called up for this window.
They will, however, be able to call on the firepower of Manchester City star striker Khadija Shaw, Tottenham goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer, Rangers pair Chantelle Swaby and Kayla McCoy, Trudi Carter and Roma’s Italian Cup-wining defender Allyson Swaby, who now plies her trade in the United States with Angel City FC.
The Jamaicans will also be boosted by the announcement that up to 2,500 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed inside the National Stadium. This is the team’s first match since October 2019.
Jamaica’s head coach, Vin Blaine, says his team is relaxed ahead of the contest.
“What I see from them is that they are very positive. They are very relaxed,” Blaine said.
After tonight’s match, Bermuda will head to Bradenton, Florida, for their second group game next Tuesday against Cayman Island. Their final two matches against Dominican Republic and Grenada will take place in April, with venues and dates still to be confirmed.
“Our coaching team has worked hard to prepare the players for these matches and we are ready to go,” Robinson said.
Only the winners of each of the eight groups will advance to the next round, which begins in Mexico in July.