Canada’s national women’s team will be looking to deliver the knockout punch when they meet Jamaica in front of a sellout home crowd and claim their ticket to next year’s Paris Olympics.
With Jamaica on the ropes following a 2-0 defeat in Kingston, Olympic champions Canada return home for the second leg in control of their own destiny but coach Bev Priestman warned her players not to get complacent. let their foot off the gas.
“I could see a real push and mindset in the last game. I am demanding that we do that again, that we don’t take our foot off the gas and we’re only going one way,” Priestman said on Monday following a Canada team practice.
“The worse thing you can do is drop off and invite pressure.
“We have a few things up our sleeve but ultimately we have to build on our first performance.”
The CONCACAF region will have two spots in the 12 team Olympic tournament and with the United States having already secured one of those places, Canada or Jamaica will grab the other.
Canada has been an Olympic powerhouse with a gold and two bronzes from the last three Summer Games but if they fail to beat Jamaica, they will be watching the Paris tournament from home.
The performance in Kingston relieved some of the pressure that had been building on Canada after an uninspiring effort at the World Cup where the squad failed to make it out of the group stage.
Canada will have the support of a raucous capacity crowd at BMO Field which Priestman said will help them to complete a job that is only half done.
The Reggae Girlz have lost 10 straight meetings with Canada but were one of the World Cup’s surprise packages, earning draws with powerhouses France and Brazil and beating Panama for their first ever win in the competition.
That confidence was on display in Kingston as Jamaica made Canada work hard for the win, with Nichelle Prince’s 18th minute header the only goal until Adriana Leon added an insurance marker in stoppage time.
“Let’s be honest, Jamaica will do anything to get to an Olympic Games and we’ve got to match that and more,” said Priestman.
“We need the fans to be there right to the very end, that’s going to be critical.”