In a thrilling and unexpected start to the Women’s World Cup, Jamaica held France to a 0-0 draw in Sydney on Sunday.
The Reggae Girlz, who had never earned a point in the tournament before, frustrated the French attack and defended bravely to secure a memorable result.
France ranked fifth in the world and one of the favorites to win the trophy, dominated possession, and had more shots but could not find a way past Jamaica’s goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer, who made several crucial saves.
The closest they came was in the game’s final minute when Kadidiatou Diani’s header hit the crossbar and bounced away.
Jamaica, ranked 43rd and playing in only their second World Cup, showed remarkable resilience and determination throughout the match. They also created some chances of their own, with Khadija Shaw, their star striker, and captain, testing France’s keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin with a free kick in the first half.
Shaw was later sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card, but it did not affect the outcome.
The draw was a historic achievement for Jamaica, who had lost all three of their games in their debut World Cup in 2019. They had also faced financial and logistical challenges to prepare for this tournament, relying on crowdfunding and donations to fund their training camp and travel expenses. Their coach, Lorne Donaldson, praised his players for their performance and spirit.
“We are very proud of what we did today. We knew France was a very strong team, but we also knew we had nothing to lose. We played with heart and passion, and we showed the world that we belong here,” he said.
He also singled out the performance of goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer.
“She has been training for this, she hardly took a break after her club season; she just wanted to get right back into it. I saw her efforts in Jamaica, and I questioned whether she is doing too much, but she said no coach, I am ready, and she was just fantastic,” Donaldson said of the Tottenham Hotspur shot-stopper.
With the draw against one of the top teams in the competition, coach Donaldson is beaming with confidence and now has his mind set on meeting Concacaf rivals Panama in their next outing on Saturday.
“We came here believing we could get something out of the game, it was a fantastic French team, but we were determined to play hard, and the ladies gave it everything.
“This is the number one result we would have had in our history on this stage male or female, so now we have to keep getting points, it’s three games we just have to keep getting points and try to get ourselves in a good position to advance from the group,” he added.
Meanwhile, France’s coach, Hervé Renard, admitted that his team was disappointed with the result and struggled to break down Jamaica’s defense.
“We expected a tough game, but we also expected to win. We had some chances, but we lacked accuracy and composure in front of goal. We have to give credit to Jamaica, they defended very well and made it difficult for us,” he said.
France will have to bounce back quickly from this setback as they face Brazil in their next game on Saturday.
Jamaica will hope to build on this momentum when they take on Panama on the same day.
Teams: Jamaica –Rebecca Spencer, Chantelle Swaby, Allyson Swaby, Vyan Sampson, Tiernny Wiltshire, Deneisha Blackwood, Jody Brown, Atlanta Primus (Havana Solaun 70th), Drew Spence, Cheyna Matthews (Solai Washington 70th), Khadija Shaw
Subs not used: Liya Brooks, Sydney Schneider, Konya Plummer, Tiffany Cameron, Trudi Carter, Peyton McNamara, Kameron Simmonds, Kalyssa Van Zanten, Paige Bailey-Gayle, Kayla McKenna
Booked: Primus (24th), Shaw (37th, 90+1 (red)
France: Pauline Peyraud-Magnin, Maelle Lakrar, Estelle Cascarino, Wendie Renard, Sakina Karchaoui, Sandie Toletti, Grace Geyoro, Amel Majri (Vicko Becho 66th), Kadidiatou Diani, Eugenie Le Sommer, Clara Mateo (Kenza Dali 66th)
Subs not used: Solene Durand, Constance Picaud, Laurina Fazer, Elisa De Almeida, Selma Bacha, Aissatou Tounkara, Lea Le Garrec, Viviane Asseyi, Naomie Feller, Eve Perisset
Booked: Mateo (14th)
Referee: Maria Carvajal (Chile)
Assistant referees: Leslie Vasquez (Chile); Loreto Toloza (Chile)
Fourth official: Laura Fortunato (Argentina)
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Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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