Hunt for the right back line almost over – Gilbert
THE DEFENSIVE solidity of Jamaica’s national senior women’s team has been a question that needs answers from the technical staff as they intensify preparations for this summer’s Women’s World Cup. However, national assistant coach Xavier Gilbert...
THE DEFENSIVE solidity of Jamaica’s national senior women’s team has been a question that needs answers from the technical staff as they intensify preparations for this summer’s Women’s World Cup.
However, national assistant coach Xavier Gilbert believes they are close to determining a solution despite those problems revealing themselves in the recently concluded Cup of Nations tournament in Australia.
The Reggae Girlz conceded nine goals in their three matches against Spain, the Czech Republic, and hosts Australia as the tournament was used as a measuring stick to assess the players and begin the process of narrowing down a core unit from which 23 will be selected for the final roster.
Head coach Lorne Donaldson had said that his team of coaches were looking at strengthening defensive positions. Brighton and Hove Albion’s Victoria Williams was given her international debut at the tournament, and Gilbert said that they tested different personnel in the back four in all three games. The goal, according to him, was to find out which is the most cohesive unit to take when the real business starts in July.
“We have been trying different combinations at the back. Every game is a different back four that you saw playing. We want to make sure that when we go to the World Cup, or just before the World Cup, we are pretty much on par in terms of what our set-up is. Because that is critical. That is something that we tried in the Cup of Nations,” Gilbert told The Gleaner.
“We had about six to eight defenders playing. So we looked at different combinations and we looked at personnel in different positions. Because we want to ensure that we select the best unit for Jamaica.”
The one constant in the tournament defensively has been Allyson Swaby, who started at centre-back in all three games. Williams started at centre-back against Spain; Satara Murray was used there against the Czech Republic; and Tiffany Cameron, a natural midfielder, was used as a make-shift fullback in their final game against Australia.
Gilbert believes, however, that the staff is close to determining who their ideal back four is and was pleased with the way the team responded after its opening defeat to Spain.
“We are getting close. We saw some good things, and we saw some things that we have to work on and that have been plaguing us. But I think in the last game, we did a lot of things well, and that was good. (Against Australia) Although we conceded three goals, two of the goals were well taken,” Gilbert said.
“But a lot of things we struggled with previously, we did better in the last game. But it is an area that we have to work on and continue to work on. And the players continue to work on it as well.”
Gilbert is trusting the process, confident that the groundwork being done now will reap benefits in solving the defensive equation when they face France, Panama, and Brazil in the first round of the World Cup.
“We wanted to expose them and see how they look in different situations and different scenarios, and I think we achieved our objective, and moving forward, we are going to continue to work hard and prepare the players as best as possible,” Gilbert said.