Reggae Boyz Face Ultimate Challenge Against USA In Final Round

reggae boyz
(AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

Jamaica face an uphill task when they oppose an extremely strong American team in a must-win CONCACAF FIFA World Cup Qualifier at Kingston’s National Stadium today.

The kick-off is slated for 5:00 pm.

In other games today, second-placed Mexico visit third-placed Canada for a 9:05 pm kick-off, Panama host El Salvador and Honduras visit Costa Rica. Both games are slated to start at 8:05 pm.

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The Americans lead the eight-team, Final Round points standings on 14 points, the same as Mexico but with a better goal difference.

Canada are next with 13 points, followed by Panama on 11, Costa Rica, Jamaica and El Salvador on six and Honduras at the rear of the field on three points.

The top three teams on points at the end of the 14-game, round-robin Final Round earn automatic tickets to Qatar next year, while the fourth-placed finisher gets another chance at making it to Qatar via an Intercontinental play-off next year.

The Jamaicans have managed just one win and three drawn results in their seven games played thus far, with only two at home.

From the remaining seven games, five will be played at home and two away, starting with today’s home fixture where the Government of Jamaica has finally come to its senses and will allow 5,000 fully vaccinated spectators entry to the game.

Jamaica’s two previous home games were contested behind closed doors as a means of trying to mitigate against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But the Reggae Boyz have not been playing well as a team and have been largely outplayed in their games, though they have suffered badly with late goals which could have had them in a much better position.

In their 2-1 loss to Mexico, the Boyz dropped two valuable points when they conceded at the death, and against El Salvador last Friday they threw away two more points when they lapsed a minute from full time to suffer an equaliser in a 1-1 result.

Throughout these contests, the team has looked disjointed as it struggled to connect on passes from defence to midfield and moreso to the attackers.

Head Coach Theodore Whitmore has admitted to that weakness in his midfielders and has hinted that changes are in store for today if the team is to improve its chances of advancing to Qatar.

“We need to take care of this football in terms of possession… I think the first half of the game [against El Salvador], we didn’t have people showing for the [ball],” told the Jamaican media after Sunday morning’s training at the National Stadium.

“But after the introduction of [Devon] Williams and [Ravel] Morrison, then we started to keep the game flowing, started combining [plays], started joining attacks and all of that. It’s something in this morning session we looked at it. We did some possession, so we just hope to have better possession against the US team,” he noted.

Meanwhile, conceding late goals continues to pose a problem for the technical staff.

“We conceded in the last couple of minutes of the game. It could be a number of factors which we don’t want to get into,” Whitmore said.

“I don’t think we managed the game properly, especially at the end. In the USA game, we have to get three points, and that’s where we are looking at the moment.

“In Mexico, we gave away [a late goal]. It [would have been] a well-deserved point to get out of that game. And if you look at [Friday’s] game we dropped two points, so it’s something we seriously have to consider and look into.

“It’s for us as the technical staff to see how best we can come up with the right master plan to get past this US team,” Whitmore said.

Squads: Jamaica — Andre Blake, Kemar Lawrence, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Oniel Fisher, Anthony Grant, Ravel Morrison, Junior Flemmings, Leon Bailey, Kemar Roofe, Michail Antonio, Dwayne Miller, Jeadine White, Liam Moore, Alvas Powell, Javain Brown, Gregory Leigh, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lamar Walker, Devon Williams, Bobby Reid, Cory Burke, Javon East, Shamar Nicholson.

United States — Zack Steffen, Matt Turner, Sean Johnson, Walter Zimmerman, DeAndre Yedlin, Antonee Robinson, Reggie Cannon, Miles Robinson, Mark McKenzie, Chris Richards, Samuel Vines, Sebastian Lletget, Kellyn Acosta, Cristian Roldan, Jesus Ferreira, Weston McKennie, Timothy Weah, Gianluca Busio, Brenden Aaronson, Joseph Scally, Yunus Musah, Paul Arriola, Christian Pulisic, Ricardo Pepi.

Concacaf World Cup Qualifying Points Standing

Teams        P       W      D       L        Gf      Ga     Gd     Pts

USA            7       4       2       1       11     4       7       14

Mexico       7       4       2       1       10     5       5       14

Canada       7       3       4       0       11     4       7       13

Panama     7       3       2       2       9       8       1       11

Costa Rica 7        1       3       3       4       6       -2      6

Jamaica      7       1       3       3       5       9       -4      6

El Salvador 7       1       3       3       3       8       -5      6

Honduras   7       0       3       4       4       13     -9      3

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