Sun | Sep 15, 2019

No grudges - Panama to take Girlz friendly seriously but claim no bitterness felt

Published:Saturday | May 18, 2019 | 12:17 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Panama’s senior women’s football team on arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s international friendly against Jamaica at the National Stadium tomorrow.
Panama’s senior women’s football team on arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday ahead of tomorrow’s international friendly against Jamaica at the National Stadium tomorrow.

Panama coach Victor Suárez says his team will not be taking their friendly international against the Reggae Girlz as a grudge match.

The game at the National Stadium tomorrow also serves as a farewell match before the departure for the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France.

Jamaica defeated the Central Americans 4-2 on penalties after playing to a 2-2 draw in the Concacaf Women’s Championship third-place playoff game last October to historically book their place in next month’s tournament. But despite the devastation the Panamanians suffered from that defeat, Suárez says that they will play their hardest but that the defeat at the hands of the Reggae Girlz in the qualifiers is not lingering in the back of their minds.

“Jamaica are difficult rivals,” he said. “We came to have a friendly match with them, and we are going to play our hardest and enjoy the game,” he told The Gleaner after the team arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.

Suárez said that the game in October was an intense affair, however, their focus for this game would be very different as they are trying to build a squad that can qualify for the 2020 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup.

But Suárez pointed out that the Reggae Girlz would be playing at home in front of adoring fans and would be quite a difficult task to handle, but he anticipated a very good match from both teams.

The Panamanian squad will include stand-out players from last October qualifiers such as Erika Hernández, Natalia Mills, Lineth Cedeno, Kenia Rangel, Karia Riley, Marta Cox, and Yomira Pinzon. They have also included youngsters Sheyla Diaz, Hilary Jaen, Anuvis Angulo, Maria Montenegro, and Aldrith Quintero.

Jamaica coach Hue Menzies said that they felt the urge to play Panama again before the World Cup finals as he felt that they would provide the competitive edge the Girlz need going into the biggest tournament of their lives.

“Panama is a team we beat to get to the World Cup, and we thought Jamaica needed to see them again,” he said. “The game was on television, but we felt the need to bring them to the Jamaican public so they can understand what we have accomplished,” he said.

“We felt that they would create that grudge and competitive spirit that we will face on a regular basis when you are in the World Cup because that’s what gets you through. We will simulate some non-tangible things we know the players have, and we are going to do what we feel the game is going to reciprocate for us,” he said.