BETTER THAN NOTHING!
Reggae Boyz, Canada share spoils in World Cup qualifierMonday, October 11, 2021
BY IAN BURNETT
THEY wanted all three, but they'll have to settle for just one point.
That's how it unfolded inside the National Stadium last evening as Jamaica and Canada played to a 0-0 stalemate in their Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Concacaf Final Round Qualifiers.
The result left Jamaica still with an uphill task to make progress but at least the performance, under extreme circumstances, was easier to accept than the last time the Reggae Boyz performed before an empty National Stadium in early September when they were humiliated 0-3 by Panama.
In other fifth-round games yesterday Mexico moved to the top of the standing with 11 points after blanking Honduras 3-0. The US slipped to second with eight points after being edged 0-1 by Panama who inched up to third place, also on eight points, followed by Canada on six points — the same as Costa Rica who scored a 2-1 victory over El Salvador who remained on five points. Honduras come next with three points and Jamaica remain in last place after inching up to two points.
“I would have been satisfied with all three points today but first and foremost, keeping a clean sheet is a positive,” reflected Head Coach Theodore Whitmore whose team was decimated by injuries.
“I'm very pleased with not only the defensive unit, but the entire unit. I think we worked as a team this afternoon. We battled together and hence, the sort of result,” he added.
The first half was a period of few chances, as the teams probed for an opening which proved difficult to come by as both defences stood firm and resolute.
Kemar Roofe flashed a header wide of the mark from Kemar Lawrence's left-sided free kick midway the first stanza, and later on Junior Flemmings looked on in anguish as his back post header from a Bobby Reid right-sided cross was blocked by a retreating defender as the ball bounced around inside the penalty area like a game of pinball.
As the first period drew to a close, makeshift central defender Alvas Powell went down with an injury, forcing Whitmore and his technical staff into more tinkering.
They brought in central midfielder Devon Williams alongside Anthony Grant in the middle of the park and shifted veteran Je-Vaughn Watson, who started in central midfield, to partner Adrian Mariappa — who had an outstanding game — in central defence.
Whitmore was happy with how the team stood up to the challenge, particularly in defence.
“First, I think we were solid in the defence today and that is something that we worked on from the US game. And, I think it is a start to keep a clean sheet and we only can build on this performance going forward.”
Canada continued to control most of the possession in the second half but were limited in their threats to Andre Blake's goal, thanks mainly to Jamaica's right wing back Oniel Fisher. He neutralised their main weapon on the left side, Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies.
So outstanding was Fisher's job on Davies that Head Coach John Herdman tried to free him from Fisher's clutches by giving him more freedom to roam the pitch.
As a result, Davies managed to get behind the Jamaican defence on just one occasion, though he almost proved deadly as his grounded cross from the left fizzed across the penalty area to the onrushing Liam Miller whose blast was brilliantly tipped over by Blake.
With Anthony Grant also playing masterfully in midfield, breaking up Canada's play and initiating counter-attacks, Jamaica went close when the tireless Shamar Nicholson just failed to meet Fisher's teasing cross from the right.
Roofe also got a decent sight on goal after dribbling well into the Canadian area, but his blast from outside failed to threaten a nervous Maxime Crepeau.
And seconds before Costa Rican Referee Keylor Herrera signalled end of play, Lawrence let fly a torrid left-footer which had Crepeau diving full stretch to his left to parry for a corner when the ball appeared destined to hit the side netting.
In the end both teams had to settle for a share of the points.
Herdman was happy at game end.
“It was what we expected. We knew the Jamaican team has taken a bit of heat from their performances, so we knew they were going to come out firing — and I thought we controlled that well,” he said.
“For the first 45 minutes I thought Canada were in control but we never really threatened them at the levels that we can, so we were not able to find that opposite side quick enough or create that cross or shooting opportunities. And then the second half, I think again we had some good control but they are always going to catch you with set pieces and counter-attacks, and we had to be pretty resilient in some moments.”
He added: “So I think the main thing is, we would've loved to get three points here but we've taken two away from Jamaica and added one instead, and undefeated — and it's not easy to do on the road. So, I'm happy with how the boys came through that tonight, given how many players we were missing, and at the same time just the commitment of that group to get out there in tough conditions and give everything, which is what they've done.”
Teams: Jamaica – Andre Blake, Alvas Powell (Devon Williams 37th), Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence, Oniel Fisher, Je-Vaughn Watson, Anthony Grant, Junior Flemmings (Javon East 73rd), Kemar Roofe, Bobby Reid (Jamal Lowe 73rd), Shamar Nicholson (Andre Gray 73rd)
Subs not used: Dillon Barnes, Jeadine White, Jamoi Topey, Javain Brown, Tyreek Magee
Booked: Fisher (6th), Watson (15th), Roofe (47th)
Canada – Maxime Crepeau, Alistair Johnston, Samuel Adekugbe (Jacob Shaffelburg 88th), Samuel Plette (Liam Fraser 88th), Mark Kaye (Stephen Eustaquio 68th), Donell Henry, Liam Millar (David Wotherspoon 68th), Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David (Charles-Andreas Bryon 88th), Jonathan Osorio, Derek Cornelius
Subs not used: James Pantemis, Dayne St Clair, Kamal Miller, Junior Hoilett, Zachary Brault-Gulliard
Booked: Plette (20th)
Referee: Keylor Herrera (Costa Rica)
Assistant referee 1: Carlos Fernandez (Costa Rica)
Assistant referee 2: William Arrieta (Costa Rica)
Fourth official: Juan Calderon (Costa Rica)
Teams P W D L Gf Ga Gd Pts
Mexico 5 3 2 0 8 3 5 11
United States 5 2 2 1 7 3 4 8
Panama 5 2 2 1 5 2 3 8
Canada 5 1 3 0 6 3 3 6
Costa Rica 5 1 3 1 3 3 0 6
El Salvador 5 1 2 2 2 5 -3 5
Honduras 5 0 3 2 2 8 -6 3
Jamaica 5 0 2 3 2 8 -6 2