GOING FOR GOAL: Jamaica striker Shakira Duncan, right, about to go past Puerto Rico goalkeeper Karly Gustovson in a Group A clash in the opening match of the 2014 CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Tuesday. Jamaica won the match 4-1. —Photo: Dexter Philip

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Opening wins for Haiti and Jamaica

By Ian Prescott ian.prescott@trinidadexpress.com

HAITI looked a bit better than Jamaica, as both Group A favourites won on the opening night of the 2014 CFU Women’s Caribbean Cup. Jamaica outclassed a young Puerto Rico outfit 4-1 in the first match of a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, on Tuesday, while Haiti did much the same when winning 5-1 against a Bermuda team—clearly not half as good as coach Naquita Robinson boasted before the tournament.
Jamaica return to action today against Bermuda from 5 p.m., while Haiti take on Puerto Rico at 7.15 p.m. in another Ato Boldon Stadium double-header. Group A action end on Saturday with the feature being a clash between Jamaica and Haiti.
Meanwhile, it was mostly all the Reggae Girlz, as they won a low intensity match against Puerto Rico on Tuesday evening. Heavily dependent on Shakira Duncan, the former West Florida University star, Jamaica led from a sixth minute Donnakay Henry penalty.
But four minutes later, Laura Sanchez had Puerto Rico level at 1-1. Duncan (34th & 56th) provided plenty penetration and two of three second half Jamaica goals, while Yolanda Hamilton got a fourth in the 47th. Jamaica also had plenty near misses.
Haiti similarly dominated Bermuda. Haiti has a Polish head-coach Shek Borkowski, who has won with women’s club teams in America and Russia. Fielding an experienced team containing six members of the national team which four years ago lost 5-0 to the US in World Cup qualifying, Haiti also possessed an exceptional stopper in captain Kencia Marcseille, a solid bruising defensive midfielder Shanna Hudson, a penetrative left-winger Manoucheka Pierre-Louis, but non-lethal strikers.
Haiti led 3-0 at the half. First, perennial off-side striker Marie Jean Pierre put in a rebound from close up for the opening goal in the eighth minute, before midfielder Linsay Zullo’s forceful solo run ended with a low shot down the centre of goal in the 37th minute. Left wide midfielder Pierre-Louis gratefully accepted a gift three minute later when an errent clearance picked her out at the back post, where she scored.
Bermuda were marginally better in the second half, where all three goals came in the dying minutes. A fierce 30-yard shot from central midfielder Wisline Dolce made it 4-0 for Haiti in the 86th minute, before Shaunte Todd emphatically replied for Bermuda with a similar long-range shot just a minute later.
Substitute striker Jenerve Charles then made it 5-1 by shooting past advancing Bermudan keeper Jaeda Smith, after running onto a through ball. Later, Bermuda’s Todd almost repeated her long goal from a free-kick, while Haiti’s Jean Pierre, twice, also missed a near open goal, before she was taken off.
The Women’s Caribbean Cup is being contested by Jamaica, Haiti, Puerto Rico and Bermuda in Group A, while Group B contain host Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts-Nevis, Antigua-Barbuda and Martinique.
The four semi-finalists from the eight-team tournament join the US, Mexico, Costa Rica (Central America Group 2 winners) and Guatemala (Central America Group I winners) for the CONCACAF Championship in October, when the top three teams qualify automatically, and the fourth team win a play-off spot to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Another CONCACAF team Canada also qualifies as World Cup host.
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