Reggae Boyz Fall Flat With Feeble Friendly Defeat In Canada
Spiritless Jamaica blanked out in Toronto
Theodore Whitmore’s Jamaica came off the rails with an insipid display to fall 2-0 against rejuvenated Canada in Saturday’s friendly at the BMO Field in Toronto.
The Reggae Boyz, who had been on a recent roll under head coach Whitmore, lacked their usual spark and were outmanoeuvred by the hosts who finished with 10-men. Anthony Jackson-Hamel broke the deadlock on 16 minutes, with Jonathan Osorio doubling their tally on the half-hour mark.
But the talking point of the tie was the shocking sending off of 16-year-old sensational Alphonso Davies. The Vancouver Whitecaps ace made a substitute appearance on 70 minutes, only to be giving his marching orders six minutes later following a violent clash with defender Damion Lowe.
Yet the largely experimental Canadian side, who dominated throughout, will be more relieved that they avenged last month’s 2-1 Gold Cup quarter-final loss to Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz with a deserved victory in front of home fans.
And with Canada head coach Octavio Zambrano boasting a handful of players of Jamaican heritage, as well as the Toronto area with numerous Jamaicans, this friendly was eagerly anticipated.
Canada’s Junior Hoilett, who in 2012 was approached by the Jamaica Football Federation to represent the Boyz having rejected the opportunity to play for Canada the year before, said: “The way we played against them in the Gold Cup, it was unlucky to only get one goal – we should have had three or four!”
Hoilett, who plies his trade for Cardiff City, set up the opening goal by picking out Jackson-Hamel with a brilliant low cross across the six yard box for an easy slot home past Andre Blake.
With the Canadians in command, it came as no surprise when Osorio beat the offside trap to double their lead. Montreal Impact striker Jackson-Hamel turned provider with a neat flick that set up Osorio to advance on Blake before a confident finish.
Ricardo Morris squandered a golden opportunity to reduce the deficit on 36 minutes, after he screwed his 12-yard effort wide of the gaping goal.
But Jamaica’s best first-half chance saw livewire Romario Williams’ point-blank effort brilliantly denied by alert shotstopper Jayson Leutwiler just before the half-time whistle, which sent the Boyz into their team talk with Whitmore as despondent for a change.
The hosts dished out more of the same slick moves to overwhelm the Boyz in the early exchanges after the turnaround but without threatening to add to their tally.
The match flared up when promising teenage striker Davis was brought down by a superb sliding tackle by Lowe, but the 16-year-old reacted with an unacceptable violent kick-out at the defender and was rightfully shown a red card. His substitute appearance limited to just six minutes.
The Reggae Boyz lacked their usual rhythm and athleticism, left chasing shadows and playing second fiddle that was a surprise after their recent excellent exploits that included finishing runners up in the Gold Cup.
It’s now back to the drawing board for Whitmore and his troops, who definitely require more fighting spirit and may need to consider returning their more inexperienced players to add fire to the battling Boyz of recent times.
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