(Reuters) - Jamaica and Panama are both one match away from a guaranteed appearance at their first Women’s World Cup after reaching the semi-finals of the CONCACAF championship, the qualifying tournament for next year’s showpiece.
Jamaica thrashed Cuba 9-0 in Edinburg, Texas on Thursday, with Jody Brown scoring three, to seal second spot in Group B behind Canada and their place in the last four.
A day earlier, Panama reached the knockout stage with a 2-0 win over Mexico. The victory meant Panama finished second in Group B behind world champions the United States.
The two tournament finalists automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup in France, while the other two teams will contest a playoff to determine a third qualifier.
“I feel like I have done some things in my career, but I haven’t gone to a World Cup before and that is every player’s dream. So it would mean lot for me personally, but more so knowing that it would be the first time in history for this programme,” Jamaica’s Chinyelu Asher told the Jamaica Observer.
“Also, knowing what it would have taken for a country like ours to even reach the World Cup would be more rewarding, as it relates to the amount of resources that we have.”
Jamaica, looking to become the first Caribbean nation to play at the Women’s World Cup, take on the U.S. on Sunday, while Panama face Canada in the other semi-final on the same day.
The third-place playoff and final are scheduled to take place three days later in Frisco.
Whichever team misses out on an automatic qualification place can still reach the World Cup by beating Argentina in an intercontinental playoff.
Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Davis