Olympic hopes on the line as Reggae Girlz face Canada on Friday Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz and Canada will face off in the first leg of the Concacaf Olympic playoff series on Friday at the National Stadium in Kingston, starting at 7:00 pm.

Canada will host the second leg of the playoff on September 26 at a sold-out Toronto’s BMO Field.

The Olympic playoff between the teams was determined based on their respective second and third-place finishes at the Concacaf W Championship in Mexico in July 2022.

The winner of this Olympic playoff will earn a berth in the Paris 2024 Olympics. Additionally, the winner will secure an automatic qualification spot in the inaugural Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, scheduled to be held in the USA between February 17 and March 10, 2024.

In the event of a loss, the defeated team will enter a Women’s Gold Cup qualifying Group A, which includes Panama and Guatemala. They will engage in a series of home and away matches against these two teams starting on October 25, with an away match in Panama.

The USA secured direct qualification for the Paris Olympics by defeating Canada 1-0 in the Concacaf Women’s Championship final.

Jamaica, after a 3-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals, bounced back to secure third place by defeating Costa Rica 1-0 in extra time during the third-place playoff.

Hosts France, along with Brazil and Colombia, have already secured spots in the 12-team Olympic football field.

On paper, Canada are the clear favourite in this home-and-away series. In the past nine meetings, Canada won every match with a combined score of 60-1. Their last meeting was at the Concacaf W Championship semifinals where Canada won 3-0.

However, the momentum is with the Reggae Girlz based on the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup this summer.

They both were part of the World Cup but with different results.

Canada, the reigning Olympic Champions (Tokyo 2020), left the World Cup at the group stage. However, they still have the hunger and the squad to go at it again and prove to the world why they are the ones with the gold medal.

During the World Cup, Jamaica secured a 1-0 victory over Panama and held France and Brazil to 0-0 draws, ultimately finishing as runners-up in their group.

Many faces that won that first gold, as well as the bronze medal at London 2012 and Rio 2016, will return for Canada. Midfielder Jessie Fleming, one of the game-changers in their last competitions, will take to the pitch again to create Canada’s game. Captain and football legend Christine Sinclair is back wearing the armband to lead this team to get the ticket to defend their Olympic title.

Jamaica, the first Caribbean nation to play in a Women’s World Cup, qualified for the first time to the Round of 16 at Australia/New Zealand 2023, showing the world of football the reason they are now considered one of the best teams in the region.

The Reggae Girlz are looking to write history one more time by being the first Caribbean country to qualify for the Olympic Games.

On Friday, key players like goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer and captain Khadija Shaw will show up to the pitch, having the home crowd’s support.

The Reggae Girlz will enter the playoff ranked 37th in the world while Canada have dropped from seventh to 10th after an unsuccessful group stage at the Women’s World Cup.