THE Jamaica senior Reggae Girlz football team is looking to boost their strike options for the CONCACAF Women's Championships to be held in the United States from October 15 to 26.

September 17, 2014 2:48 AM

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Merron Gordon, the national head coach, said he is particularly keen on getting in at least one player in the mould of a robust, old-fashioned centre forward, an asset when facing teams with physically strong defenders.

"That [the forward position] is definitely one area we will improve on. We need a striker with some physical presence; a big, strong person," he said, while adding that US-based Jamaican Sanoska Young is expected to join the squad when they return to local camp today.

"She trained with us before we went to the Dominican Republic [for the Caribbean Football Union qualifiers in June], but she got injured. She is now okay and ready to show us what she can do," Gordon said.

The slender Shakira Duncan, the team's top scorer, hit eight goals in two outings in the Dominican Republic and was again prolific in the early stages of the Caribbean Champions in Trinidad & Tobago last month.

However, when the Jamaicans faced stronger and more organised defenders in games against Haiti and hosts T&T, there was a sense that the team lacked the punch needed for physical battles.

"Our main striker Shakira Duncan is quick and tricky, but she is relatively small. At the CONCACAF level you need a striker who can play with back to goal and can make defenders uncomfortable with strength and pace. We need a strong striker who can complement Duncan by holding up the ball," explained Gordon.

He insisted, however, that a player entering his squad has to already be in tip-top condition. "Anybody coming in now has to be very sharp and ready to fight for a starting place.

She has to be someone who can provide instant impact." The Jamaicans are drawn in Group B of the CONCACAF tournament alongside Martinique, Costa Rica and giants Mexico.

Group A features hosts US, Guatemala, Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago. Jamaica open their account versus Martinique at the Sporting Park in Kansas on October 16, before flying off to face Costa Rica at the Toyota Park in Illinois on October 18.

They close their preliminary round games against Mexico at the RFK Memorial Stadium in Washington, DC on October 21. The semi-finals, third-place play-off and championship matches are set for PPL Park in Pennsylvania.

The best three teams at the tournament automatically advance to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada. The fourth-placed CONCACAF team will have to play off against a South America outfit for an additional World Cup spot.

Canada will not compete at the CONCACAF phase because, as hosts, they receive a bye to the World Cup. No Jamaican female team has ever qualified for the world football showpiece.

Source: jamaicaobserver.com

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