Ecuador End Jamaica’s Six-Game Unbeaten Run
Reggae Boyz warm-up for Nations League with friendly reversal
Jamaica tasted a rare defeat, beaten 2-0 by South American giants Ecuador in Friday’s friendly at the Red Bull Arena, New Jersey in the United States.
Enner Valencia’s 17th-minute penalty and Renato Ibarra’s strike four minutes into the second-half secured the first victory for new manger Hernán Bolillo Gomez.
Head coach Theodore Whitmore kicked off the game with eight players from the island against a largely experimental Ecuador side, resting many of his stars as the Boyz tackle the Cayman Islands in Sunday’s CONCACAF Nations League tie in Kingston.
With Ecuador having lost their past four matches and subsequently failing to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia, the new era under Gomez – who had guided Panama to 2018 Russia – was seemingly a straightforward game against Jamaica.
And with the Boyz having failed to beat Ecuador in their previous three meetings, thrashed 5-2 in the high altitude of Quito in their last encounter in 2011, then there appeared – on paper at least – only one winner on Friday.
Defender Ricardo Thomas was penalised for handling, with Valencia converting the resultant spot-kick to the bottom right corner past UWI FC keeper Amal Knight early in the opening half.
American-based Owayne Gordon (San Antonio FC, on loan from Montego Bay United) and Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising FC) joined Michael Hector (who recently moved to Sheffield Wednesday from Chelsea on loan) as the only overseas contingent to start for the Boyz.
After the turnaround Miller Bolaños set up Renato Ibarra, who unleashed a screaming 35-yarder to double Ecuador’s cushion and leave Knight with no chance.
With the South Americans outmuscling the Boyz and looking sharper Whitmore wisely made a flurry of changes on the hour-mark in a bid to battle back. Jovan East, Damion Lowe, Alex Marshall and Jeadine White replacing Ricardo Williams, Hector, Ricardo Morris and Knight respectively.
And he threw on attacking midfield duo Rohan Reid and Je-Vaughn Watson seven minutes later, but the Ecuador side simply soaked up the pressure to end Jamaica’s unbeaten run of six matches.
With a totally different line-up for Jamaica’s opening CONCACAF Nations League fixture on Sunday, due to strict FIFA rules not permitting players to compete in matches in less than 48 hours, the Boyz are expecting to return to winning ways when relative minnowz Cayman Islands are Sunday’s visitors to the National Stadium.
Jamaica: Knight (White, 60 minutes); Richie, Shaw (Watson, 67), McCarthy, Hector (Lowe, 60); Thomas, Vassell; Williams (East, 60), Gordon (Reid, 67), Morris (Marshall, 60); Lambert. Subs: Blake, Burke, Mattocks, Mariappa
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