Honduras 0 Jamaica 1 – Whitmore’s Sprinkling of Locals Stun Honduras
Binns snatches sole strike to lift Jamaica’s spirits
Michael Binns’ 72nd-minute strike delivered an improbable slender success for Jamaica over Honduras at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on Thursday evening.
The Portmore United midfielder was one of six island-based players to kick off against the world no.65 outfit, who played an experimental side in their bid to fine-tune ahead of next month’s World Cup qualifiers.
Montego Bay United providing the defensive duo of Ladale Richie and 19-year-old Kevon Lambert, both promoted to the starting line-up, as well as attacking midfielder Owayne Gordon and debutant teenage striker Jourdaine Fletcher with Boys’ Town forward Shamar Nicholson making up the Red Stripe Premier League contingent.
And interim head coach Theodore Whitmore defied all expectations by masterminding an incredible victory by putting his trust in locals, which also gave his chances of taking over the role once more a real boast.
Whitmore explained: “My aim is to look beyond the Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup this summer and more long-term, because we want to give these players a chance to develop – and it will take time for them to get to the next level.”
Jamaica started off well in this friendly, just as they had done in their spirited 1-0 defeat to hosts USA earlier this month, but this time instead of chasing shadows when their fitness levels dived on the hour-mark the Reggae Boyz continued to find rhythm and Whitmore’s astute substitutions kept the Boyz buzzing.
With each wave of attack from Honduras the safety was snuffed out and although the opening half was not a spectacular 45 minutes, which lacked the flurry of goal-scoring chances that the Houston turnout – equally divided into Honduras and Jamaica supporters – desired, it proved entertaining.
With Honduras upping their eagerness to make the breakthrough after the turnaround, New York Red Bulls’ Kemar Lawrence replaced Seattle Sounders’ Oneil Fisher in defence on 51 minutes.
Honduras head coach Jurgen Luis Pinto’s side went all out on the attack for the opening 15 minutes of the second half, then there were wholesale changes with five new faces thrown on – two of these subs appearing after Binns notched the all important goal.
After Binns beat keeper Luis Lopez with 18 minutes remaining, the Boyz were clearly in the ascendancy and put the recently crowned Copa Centroamericana champions on the backfoot.
At the other end of the pitch it was Ryan Thompson between the sticks who was dealing with everything thrown at him as Jamaica registered a confidence-boosting result against a team ranked a dozen places above them.
The Boyz may not be the polished article yet but Whitmore has miraculously moulded together a squad who look more than capable of defending their Caribbean Cup crown in June and equally surprising the big guns at July’s Gold Cup.
Those European-based players, omitted from the four games that Whitmore has taken charge of, have only been missed for the last half-hour against the USA when Jamaica were outplayed and outmanoeuvred.
The big question for Whitmore and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) now is obvious. Do they add a sprinkling of experience from English-born players who have been stalwarts for the Boyz yet failed during their dismal World Cup campaign or do they stick to their guns and polish up those who Jamaica-based talents who have proved their worth on the international stage?
It’s an excellent dilemma for Whitmore to have, and bodes well for his future at the helm. To end Honduras’ six-match unbeaten run will have not only the JFF directors smiling but also all of those proud supporters of the Boyz across Jamaica.
JAMAICA: Thompson; Fisher (Lawrence 51), Lowe, Harriott, Ritchie; Lambert (Lewis 74), Binns, Watson, Gordon; Fletcher (Burke 64), Nicholson (Williams 74). Subs: Blake, Campbell, Grandison, Ambursley, Grant
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