NEWCASTLE: Arsenal striker Caitlin Foord got on the scoresheet as Australia beat Jamaica 3-0 Wednesday to stretch their win streak to seven in an ideal build-up to the women’s World Cup on home soil this year. The victory at Newcastle, north of Sydney, ensured they won the four-team Cup of Nations-a dress rehearsal for the showpiece tournament in Australia and New Zealand in July-August.
Sam Kerr’s side-who face Ireland, Nigeria and Canada in World Cup Group B-also beat Spain 3-2 and the Czech Republic 4-0. “It’s massive. We said we needed to come out strong today and finish this tournament off and that’s what we did,” said midfielder Katrina Gorry, who scored the first goal. “Three from three, we’re pretty happy to start 2023 like that.” Jamaica depart Australia with three defeats, reinforcing the challenges they face at the World Cup in a tough Group F alongside France, Brazil and either Paraguay or Panama.
The Spaniards earlier overcame the Czechs 3-0 at the same stadium to get their preparations back on track. They are in World Cup Group C with Costa Rica, Zambia and Japan. The Czechs did not qualify. Gorry put Australia in front on 28 minutes with a clinical long-range strike that gave goalkeeper Becky Spencer no chance. Jamaica created opportunities, but couldn’t convert and Alex Chidiac drilled home from close range to double the lead 11 minutes into the second half before Foord grabbed the third with a 25-yard rocket.
“We need to play against the best teams in the world and the last three games have really pushed us in the right direction,” said Jamaica’s Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Drew Spence. “We’ve had not so much positive results, but positive performances.” Earlier, Real Madrid’s Esther Gonzalez scored twice and Athenea del Castillo converted a penalty as Spain eased past the Czechs despite missing 15 top players who are embroiled in a row with coach Jorge Vilda. The Euro 2022 quarter-finalists applied all the early pressure with the breakthrough coming on 28 minutes after a neat series of passes ended with Gonzalez tapping in.
The experienced striker doubled the lead 10 minutes later with a header, before Del Castillo made it 3-0 from the penalty spot. All the teams have two more international windows left to tune up for the World Cup, with the 15 Spanish players needing to decide whether they want to play under Vilda again. None have featured since September when they made themselves unavailable for selection, reportedly unhappy at the locker-room atmosphere and his training methods. The Spanish FA backed the coach. – AFP