Preview: Reggae Girlz look to rebound against red-hot Italy

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Preview (June 13, 2019) — The FIFA Women’s World Cup is a dream come true for the 23 players on the Jamaican Women’s National Team squad. However, it’s not just the Reggae Girlz dream come true. It’s a dream come true for the nation of Jamaica.

The Jamaican men have only made it to one FIFA World Cup. Back in 1998, the Jamaicans booked their flight to France. Ironically enough, the women are making their World Cup debut in the same nation.

For the men in 1998, they never made it out of the group stage. The Reggae Girlz are trying to avoid that same fate. In their opening match, the Jamaicans fell to Brazil after three high-energy goals from Cristiane propelled the Brazilians. Brazil needed the win toto, as a loss would have continued a nine-game losing streak.

One loss doesn’t seal Jamaica’s fate, though.

In the World Cup anything can happen. Jamaica will be facing a red-hot Italian team that upset Australia in their World Cup return. Italy last featured in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999, a total of 20 years ago.

Here’s what to lookout for when Jamaica takes on “Le Azzurre.

Player to Watch for Italy: Barbara Bonansea

Barbara Bonansea has been part of the Italian National Team since 2012. However, she skyrocketed to fame just last week with two goals over Australia.

Granted, Australia’s defense is poor. They’re defending on both of Bonansea’s goals were atrocious. However, that’s nothing to take away from the Juventus midfielder. She was all over the place in the match. Her first goal came when she picked off a bad pass from Australian defender Claire Polkinghorne. She beat out the defender and then went one-on-one with goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

Her second goal came off a header where she used her body to get in front of goal-scoring threat Sam Kerr.

Bonansea isn’t the tallest player on the pitch, but she’s fast and can maneuver in and out of defenders. Jamaica will have to rest up so they can keep up with the Italian.

Player to Watch for Jamaica: Cheyna Matthews

It seems easy to put Khadija “Bunny” Shaw as the player to watch for Jamaica. She was a large part of the reason why Jamaica is at the World Cup.

In Jamaica, she’s now the face of this national team. However, with that comes a lot of pressure — and a lot of defensive pressure from other teams. Shaw is a tall player and will always have two Italians on her. However, that’s a positive for Cheyna Matthews.

Matthews is one of the players that joined the national team right before the World Cup. She, Tiffany Cameron and Havana Solaun have family ties with Jamaica and are able to compete for the nation. Matthews features for the Washington Spirit in the NWSL and has performed well in his first season back from having her son.

Jamaica hasn’t scored yet in this World Cup. Matthews could very well change that.

Also, as an honorable mention, don’t forget to keep an eye on 19-year-old goalkeeper Sydney Schneider. She made a huge penalty shot against Brazil and made other admirable saves. She’ll be a talking point of this tournament.

 

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