CNN — A battling performance earned Jamaica its first ever point in Women’s World Cup history as the Reggae Girlz secured a 0-0 draw against heavy favorite France.
Jamaica had previously only appeared at one World Cup, in France four years ago, and lost all three games in a disappointing campaign.
However, it took just one game in 2023 for the side to outperform its 2019 efforts.
Jamaica, led by the supremely talented Khadija ‘Bunny’ Shaw, worked hard throughout in Sydney against one of the tournament frontrunners and deserved to take a point from the match. It was also the first time Jamaica, ranked 43rd in the world, had pitched its first-ever World Cup clean sheet.
With the game reaching its conclusion, Shaw was sent off for a second bookable offence and Jamaica was left to hang on without its star player. But the Reggae Girlz defended valiantly in the dying moments to secure a historic draw.
For France, ranked fifth in the world, this represents two points lost. Hervé Renard’s team was wasteful throughout and will be disappointed not to have converted promising positions into clearcut chances.
The result also diminishes France’s chances of winning Group F. With Brazil still to play, the task of topping the group has became a lot more challenging.
Late winner denies South Africa
South Africa was denied what would have been a historic draw for the country as Sweden scored a late winner to secure a 2-1 win.
In the 90th minute in Wellington, New Zealand Amanda Ilestedt found the net for the Swedes to break South African hearts.
It had looked as if South Africa was to earn its first point in Women’s World Cup history.
Hildah Magaia had poked a rebounded ball over the line to give South Africa a 48th-minute lead. It was South Africa’s second goal in tournament history.
The South African goalscorer was later substituted, leaving the pitch in tears after appearing to suffer an injury in the process of scoring.
But in the 66th minute Sweden, semifinalists in the tournament four years ago, leveled. Initially it was deemed an own goal before being awarded to Fridolina Rolfo.
The Swedish team was far from its best but that should not distract from an impressive performance by South Africa, a team ranked 54th in the world and a country that made its Women’s World Cup debut in France 2019.
2019 finalist off to winning ways
Elsewhere, Portugal didn’t look out of place making its Women’s World Cup debut, but ultimately fell to a 1-0 defeat against the Netherlands.
A goal inside the first 15 minutes from Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt gave the 2019 World Cup runners-up the initiative as they took complete control of proceedings.
While Portugal toiled for the remainder of the game, the Netherlands’ experience showed.
Despite the defeat, Portugal will feel buoyed by its performance – but will need to improve in the final third to make a mark on the tournament.
The Netherlands will be delighted to have kickstarted its campaign with all three points as the side prepares to take on the imperious USWNT in its next fixture – a repeat of the 2019 final.
Source : CNN