- Jamaica qualify for first-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup
- Reggae Girlz win penalty shoot-out over Panama
- Caribbean side join Canada and USA at France 2019
Jamaica needed penalties to defeat Panama in the match for third place at the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, and with it, earn a maiden berth at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. They become the first side from the Caribbean to reach the showpiece event of women’s football after winning the shoot-out 4-2 following a 2-2 extra-time draw.
In wet and rainy conditions in Frisco, Texas, it was the Reggae Girlz that made the brighter start to the match, forcing some early saves from Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey, who returned to action after missing the semi-finals through injury.
Jamaica made the opening breakthrough before the quarter-hour mark. Jody Brown got on the end of a through ball down the right flank before sending over a fine cross to an unmarked Khadija Shaw. Her close-range header found the back of the net, as Hue Menzies’s side took a one-goal lead into half-time.
The central Americans were more positive after the break, and their persistence finally paid off on 74 minutes when Panama captain Natalia Mills received a forward pass before driving a low right-footed shot past Jamaica goalkeeper Sydney Schneider to send the game to extra time.
Jamaica restored their lead five minutes into the first extra-time period, as a low cross from the left found Brown on the edge of the Panama box. Her right-footed shot found the corner of the net to make it 2-1. Undeterred, Los Canaleros levelled matters again in the second extra-time period through substitute Lineth Cedeno to send the contest to penalties.
It was the Caribbean side that held their nerve in the shoot-out, with Jamaica’s substitute goalkeeper Nicole McClure making key spot-kick saves from Cedeno and Kenia Rangel. It left Dominique Bond-Flasza to score the decisive penalty and book Jamaica’s ticket for France 2019.
As the fourth place finisher at this year’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship, Panama will have one last opportunity to make next year’s world finals, as they will meet Argentina in an intercontinental play-off next month.