Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Girlz’ are becoming accustomed to making history.
The team secured the country’s first ever Women’s World Cup point against France and then went one better by earning a first ever victory with a narrow 1-0 win over Panama.
If the team is to add another historic achievement to its resumé and reach the knockout stages of a World Cup – men’s or women’s – for the first time, it will need to avoid defeat against Brazil.
The team knows just a draw will be enough to progress to the round of 16 and will be boosted by the return of star striker Khadija Shaw, who was suspended for the win over Panama after picking up a late red card in the team’s opener.
Brazil, currently a point behind Jamaica, knows only a victory will suffice – As Canarinhas can technically still progress with a draw, but would simultaneously require the extraordinarily unlikely scenario of a Panama victory over France.
Brazil legend Marta, considered by most to be the greatest female footballer of all time, has only been used as a second-half substitute so far in Australia and New Zealand and it’s likely she will continue in that role moving forward.
Ary Borges, who scored a hat-trick for Brazil against Panama, is just one of a number of talented youngsters coming through the ranks that are tasked with a least partially filling Marta’s sizable shoes.
The 37-year-old is playing in her sixth and final World Cup and a major title with Brazil is the only accomplishment missing from her glittering career.
In Group F’s other match, France can secure top spot with a victory over already eliminated Panama.
Sweden is already through to the last 16 and only needs a draw against Argentina to guarantee top spot.
Italy will qualify if it beats South Africa or if it draws and Argentina draws or loses against Sweden.
Argentina and South Africa both need to win to stand any chance of reaching the knockout stages.
If they both win, three teams will be on four points and it will again come down to goal difference, then goals scored, then head-to-head.