Goal-hungry Boyz remain optimistic
DESPITE their 7-1 whipping of Aruba at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, on Thursday, Jamaica are still staring down the barrel as they desperately try to secure top spot in Group B of the Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship.
Their race to secure the one qualifying spot to the decisive final round of six teams suffered again when nemesis Mexico put distance between themselves and the Young Reggae Boyz with an 8-0 pounding of Grenada.
Both Jamaica and Mexico have 10 points at the top of the group, but the North Americans have a meaty goal difference of plus-19, while the Jamaicans have a plus-10. In their match-up, the class teams of the group ended 2-2.
With the gulf between the group’s top contenders so wide, Jamaica’s best shot of copping top spot would be for them to ensure getting maximum points from Saint Martin in their final match today, and hope that Mexico falter by dropping points either through a draw or a defeat against Aruba.
In Group B fixtures today, Jamaica will face Saint Martin at 3:00 pm, so too Nicaragua and Grenada. At 4:00 pm, Mexico and Aruba will do battle. All games are at the multi-field IMG Academy.
Nicaragua are third in the group on six points, followed by Aruba (four), Grenada (three) and Saint Martin (one)
But even in the face of the enormity of the odds against the Boyz, acting head coach Jerome Waite remains optimistic.
“It is an uphill task, but despite that, we intend to go out there and do our endeavour best, and although Mexico are in the driver’s seat, we do intend to go out there and score as many goals because it is still possible (advancing to the next round),” he said from Florida yesterday.
“This game has to be one of all-out attack and the players themselves are aware of that as they know that is the only way they will have any chance of advancing,” Waite added.
He is hoping that the return of two key players who missed the last game will boost the team today.
“Two players who missed the last game – Tyreek Magee and Shandel Senior – will be back, so we should be at full strength. In all of this, it is good to know you have a Jamaican team fighting, taking the effort right down to the wire, and even if this team falls short, we must lift our hats off to them knowing that they weren’t properly prepared to play this tournament, but what they have done is second to none,” said Waite, who is the assistant coach for the Senior Reggae Boyz.
Looking back on Thursday’s match against Aruba, where both teams were 0-0 at halftime, the Jamaican tactician explained the glaring differences of both halves.
“We have to give these youngsters credit because you would never believe that the first half ended 0-0 and then for them to go and score seven in the second half.
“The Aruba team in the first half defended stoutly, while we created a lot of chances, but faulty execution resulted in us not scoring. The game is about two halves, and when we analysed the first half, we made some adjustments as it relates to the second half and that bore fruits,” noted Waite.
With the effort to get as many goals as possible against Aruba, the Arnett Gardens coach admitted that the players were left feeling disappointed when they realised that Mexico had scored eight unanswered goals against Grenada.
“They were feeling a bit down at the end after they learnt that Mexico scored all of eight goals, but as a coaching staff we have to lift them up and let them know that it is still possible.
“We have another training session today (yesterday) and then we have the game tomorrow (today), so we still have to keep working although we are aware of the task, but the players have remained upbeat and they are raring to go,” Waite ended.
In their 7-1 triumph over Aruba, Tevin Rochester led the scoring with hat-trick (52nd, 64th, 90th+5), followed by a brace from Ricardo Mcintosh (84th, 90th+1). There was one apiece from Jamoi Topey (50th) and and Nicque Daley (70th).
Aruba’s response came from Glenbert Croes in the 66th minute.
In the other match of the group on Thursday, Nicaragua got their second-consecutive win with a 2-0 victory over Saint Martin. Estariling Acuna (49th) and Eliam Palacios (76th) were on the scoresheet.
Jamaica are seeking to qualify for the second Fifa Under-20 World Cup, having historically done so in 2001 at the Argentina edition.
The 2018 edition of the Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament is featuring a record number 34 teams. Unlike the previous format, which included regional qualifiers in the Caribbean and Central America and one final championship, this year’s redesigned competition ensures that all the participating teams have access to play more top-level football matches.
After the group phase, the six group winners will advance to the Qualification Stage, where they will be divided into two groups of three teams. The two group winners plus the second-place finishers of the Qualification Stage will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. Additionally, the two group winners will advance to the tournament’s final to determine the regional champion.
DALEY (left)... got one of Jamaica’s goals in 7-1 win over Aruba
WAITE... it is an uphill task, but despite that, we intend to go out there and do our endeavour best