Jaded Jamaica Held At Home By Antigua & Barbuda
Stoppage time goal denies lacklustre Reggae Boyz
Veteran Peter Byers snatched a dramatic last-gasp equaliser as Antigua & Barbuda dented what appeared to be a rare home victory for Jamaica on Sunday.
Akeem Thomas had scored an own goal on 50 minutes to give Theodore Whitmore’s a slender lead at the National Stadium, but the 33-year-old cropped up level matters in a tepid affair.
FIFA 49th-ranked Jamaica, who fielded an experimental side, failed to ignite and were given a lesson by the Benna Boyz who lie 90 places down the world ladder.
Disappointed head coach Whitmore admitted: “It’s a work in progress, and we will continue to build. I have to give credit to the Antigua keeper (Brentton Muhammad) because he had some brilliant saves.
“We had some chances to score, and that’s an area that we need to improve.”
In contrast Antigua & Barbuda coach Rolston Williams was buoyant and admitted: “I’m happy with the score. We wanted to take the fans out of the game by frustrating the team.”
And frustrated was exactly what the Boyz were with London-born shotstopper Muhammad dealing with everything thrown at him except the own goal.
The Boyz, playing their first game on home soil since for two years, initially dominated possession yet lacked the creative spark.
The Boyz gave their loyal fans something to cheer just after the turnaround when Dane Kelly, playing his first home international, caused confusion in the box with Thomas turning the ball past Muhammad.
With tame tic for tac play following the lead, the hosts were punished for treating it like a training session when Byers headed past Andre Blake five minutes into stoppage time.
The friendly, used as preparation for both teams ahead of the CONCACAF Nations’ League Qualifiers in September, left fans fuming at Jamaica’s lacklustre display.
Whitmore explained: “I’m disappointed with the result because it was a lukewarm performance.
“We should have put the game away, but we did not manage the game in the last 20 minutes.
“We had to make some changes, and that might have affected the flow, but the plan was always to give players chances to play.
“One of the things we were guilty of is not moving the ball fast enough. We played from side to side. We gave the opponent time to organise themselves.
“We always want to win every game, it’s the nature of our players to want to win.
“We need to have more time doing drills with the players. It is lack of experience on our part.”
JAMAICA STARTING XI: Andre Blake, Fabion MCcarthy, Ladale Richie, Shaun Francis, Jevaughn Watson, Fabian Reid, Kemar Lawrence, Romario Williams, Maalique Foster, Dane Kelly, Oneil Fisher
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