Jamaica qualify for women’s WC for first time

London, may 27 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/27/2019 12:08:58 PM IST

Late afternoon in Dallas and the Toyota Stadium in the city’s suburbs is all but empty. Dotted around an otherwise sweep of vacant red and blue seats are a few hundred fans. 

In the lower bleachers, looking like the first specks of a pointillist painting, some supporters are wearing plastic ponchos, protecting themselves from the drizzling rain on what is a chilly October Wednesday. Though they create sound, the cheers and the cries are largely swallowed up into the ether. 
The majority of ticket-holders have yet to filter into the 20,000-seat arena for that evening’s top-billed match between the US and Canadian national women’s teams. It means only the few experience the drama and the history unfolding on the pitch as Jamaica and Panama engage in a stomach-churning penalty shootout. 
 Deadlocked at 2-2 after 120 minutes, there was only one way to resolve the high-stakes third-place playoff which would determine which team would qualify for the Women’s World Cup in France. The winner, indeed, taking it all.  
Jamaica had already been bold, bringing on McClure especially for the shootout. She and her teammates had practiced spot-kicks throughout the week. Was this shootout destiny or an example of how well prepared the squad was? Perhaps both. 
Four penalties in and no one has yet missed. Pulses quicken. Panama’s Lineth Cedeno steps up, directs her effort at an obliging height and McClure saves but there is no wild celebration from the team’s unflappable substitute goalkeeper. Instead, she calmly tells herself that she must save another. “The first save I felt something. I would say something within myself,” she recalls.
 Supporters continue to filter into the stadium. The majority of the Jamaican team look as if they’re on trampolines, bouncing on the halfway line in an attempt to contain the butterflies as Dominique Bond-Flasza prepares to take the penalty which could make history.
Walking towards the penalty spot, the PSV defender decides where to place her shot. To the right, towards the top corner.
Against the odds, after cuts in funding, after disbandment, after hearing naysayers opine that women couldn’t and shouldn’t play football, Jamaica’s women qualify for the Women’s World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.
The 22-year-old Bond-Flasza, the daughter of a Jamaican mother and Polish father, starts running towards her teammates before turning on her heels, switching direction to sprint towards McClure after noticing her goalkeeper is not among the yellow swarm racing towards her.


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