Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz secured a nervy 4-2 penalty shoot-out win over Panama to book their spot in next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup after both teams played out a tense 2-2 draw in their Concacaf Women’s Championships third-place playoff in Frisco, Texas.
Sixteen year-old Jody Brown thought she provided an extra-time winner to secure the historic qualification but for the Jamaicans were pegged back for second tie in the contest when Lineth Cedeno lifted a shot over Jamaican goalkeeper Sydney Schneider in the 115th minute to send both teams to the spot.
Deneisha Blackwood, Ashleigh Shim, Christina Chang and Dominique Bond-Flasza all scored for the Jamaicans while Yomira Rios and Erika Hernandez scored for Panama with Cedeno and Kenia Villarreal saw their efforts saved by goalkeeper Nicole McClure, who was subbed in seconds before the penalty shoot-out.
Jamaica now becomes the first Caribbean country to qualify for the Women’s World Cup and the first to send teams to both the male and female World Cup tournaments, after the Reggae Boyz famous qualification to the 1998 World Cup, which also took place in France.
In a rainy opening few minutes in Frisco both teams started positively with some crisp passing and movement.
It was the Jamaicans, who got the first sight of goal, when Khadija Shaw’s low drive from a Chinyelu Asher pull-back down the right touchline, was saved by Panama goalkeeper Yenith Bailey at her near post.