Colombia wins Jamaica to reach Women’s World Cup quarterfinals for the first time; France beats Morocco. Colombia advanced to the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in the country’s history after a nerve-wracking 1-0 victory over Jamaica in Melbourne on Tuesday. At the same time, France easily defeated Morocco to reach the last eight.
Catalina Usme scored the game-winning goal for Colombia and became the first player in this tournament to overcome Jamaica’s stubborn defense.
The Colombians’ reward is a last-eight match against incumbent European champion and world No. 4 England in Sydney on Saturday. Despite a 21-place gap in the world rankings, the South American team can win the match.
France’s 4-0 victory over Morocco, a team that reached the quarterfinals in its first appearance in the tournament, earns Les Bleus a quarterfinal matchup against co-host Australia on Saturday.
The unlikely journeys of Colombia, Morocco, and Jamaica to the knockout stages will significantly affect this tournament’s success. After all, what is sporting romanticism if not the traditional powerhouses losing and the underdogs prevailing?
However, Morocco labored against one of the tournament favorites, France, and fell behind 3-0 in just 23 minutes, while Colombia and Jamaica appeared to be hampered by defeat.
But by defeating Jamaica by the barest of margins, Colombia became the first South American team to reach the quarterfinals since Brazil in 2011.
After the match, Colombian women’s soccer coach Nelson Abada told FIFA that the occasion was “unique” for Colombia and South America.
“This is the triumph of a human group that has worked tirelessly to achieve consistency, to have a trade, character, and personality… and today we played well and won,” he said.
Impossible to disregard
After the final whistle, several Jamaican athletes were in tears. Nonetheless, the country’s participation in the round of 16 is extraordinary.
In addition to advancing from a group that included France and Brazil, the Reggae Girlz had to release a statement before the tournament expressing their “utmost disappointment” with the national soccer federation.
According to the statement, the team had missed several friendlies due to “extreme disorganization” and had “appeared repeatedly without receiving contractually obligated compensation.”
The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) acknowledged on its website that “things have not been done perfectly” and that it was “working diligently” to address players’ concerns.
Chinyelu Asher, who played for Jamaica at the 2019 World Cup before the tournament started, said the statement was to make the federation consider the women’s team more seriously.
What will be the response to the team’s triumph and that of other countries with less funding?
While approximately $49 million of the record $110 million World Cup prize money will go directly to individual players, the remainder will be divided among the participating federations, who will determine whether or not to allocate any of this money to teams and players.
Even though Jamaica’s participation in this tournament concluded in Melbourne, the players have shone on the international stage and, hopefully, made themselves impossible to overlook.
After the match, Usain Bolt, Jamaica’s track and field superstar, posted on social media, “You made us all proud.”
Jamaica silences Caicedo.
The day’s first match began as if it would end in penalties. Jamaica relied on a defense that had not conceded a goal in group play, and Colombia, like France and Brazil before them, labored to penetrate a well-organized backline.
Before this match, Jamaica had only scored once in the tournament. Jamaica’s coach, Lorne Donaldson, had challenged his team to find the back of the net, but the team managed only two attempts on goal and needed to exert more pressure on Colombia.
Except for Usme’s moment of brilliance, Colombia’s talented 18-year-old forward Linda Caicedo was kept mainly silent during a match where defense prevailed over offense.
In the 51st minute, the captain of Colombia deftly controlled Ana Guzman’s extraordinary pass and placed the ball past Rebecca Spencer of Jamaica. Appropriately, it was the goal that would go down in history.
Jamaica nearly equalized when Colombia’s Catalina Perez mishandled the ball on her goal line. Still, the South American side counterattacked swiftly and troubled Jamaica once more before Caicedo was ruled offside.
The longer the game, the more latitude Caicedo had on the left flank, but Jamaica defended against the threat posed by the Real Madrid player whose superb ball control has lit up this tournament.
Jamaica had a late opportunity to tie the score, but Drew Spence missed the target by centimeters. Leicy Santos then hit the post in the match’s waning minutes, as Jamaica searched for an equalizer, as the latter phases of the game came to life.
Despite a late flourish, Jamaica’s unimaginative strategy ultimately proved to be its undoing.
France’s ruthless conduct
Later that day in Adelaide, France jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead to effectively terminate the match as a contest in the first half and further demonstrate why it is considered the competition’s favorite. Two beautiful team goals have placed Les Bleus in the lead. Kadidiatou Diani headed for the goal after her teammates’ excellent buildup play on the left flank. Diani became a provider when she discovered Kenza Dali, who arrowed home her shot, leaving Morocco with a mountain to conquer.
Morocco’s task of mounting a revival became nearly impossible after France’s Eugénie Le Sommer scored her 91st international goal, finding the far post, as France displayed its ruthlessness.
Morocco was more competitive in the second half, but Le Sommer scored her second goal at the back post in the 70th minute.
It was a straightforward victory for France, but Morocco significantly contributed to a historic competition even in defeat.