Reggae Boyz Edge Past Honduras In Gold Cup Thriller

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Orgill becomes Jamaica’s shooting star

Dever Orgill’s opening half brace helped Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz kick off their CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign in style, thrilling the home fans with their nail-biting 3-2 triumph on Monday.

The explosive Orgill, who outshone the much lauded debutant Leon Bailey, made Kingston’s National Stadium erupt with his opener on the quarter-of-an-hour mark.

And on the brink of half-time the powerful veteran he rounded off a neat move with his second strike.

Anthony Lozano reduced the deficit early in the second half, only for Damion Lowe to restore the two-goal cushion within 100 seconds of conceding.

Honduras substitute Rubilio Castillo snatched a second goal in stoppage time, leaving the enthusiastic crowd on the edge of their seats as to whether the Boyz would earn maximum points in their Group C contest.

Honduras head coach Fabian Coito, a former defender from Uruguay, had been entrusted in February to lead his team for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

But he arrived in Jamaica on the back of a humbling 7-0 defeat at the hands of Brazil although he had the attacking trio of Alberth Elis, Anthony Lozano and Romell Quioto to try to stop the rot.

Yet the excitement leading up to the fifth Gold Cup encounter between these sides was the inclusion of Kingston-born Leon Bailey.

The 21-year-old Bayern Leverkusen whizzy winger, who has been “sizzling” according to Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore, played more of a bit part with Orgill the star performer despite only involved for 68 minutes.

Orgill, the powerful Port Antonio-born forward, who had failed to score in his previous 13 appearances since making his debut six years ago, was swift to make amends and turn on the style.

Bailey helped get the ball rolling for Jamaica’s breakthrough with a clever chip to Peter-Lee Vassell, whose effort rebounded into the path of Orgill to confidently head home from close range.

The strike temporarily silenced Honduras, but the majority of spectators in the stadium went crazy with Orgill’s spectacular goal celebration of an impressive back-flip followed by a copy of compatriot Usain Bolt’s infamous victory pose on the edge of the athletics track.

With the feelgood factor buzzing within the stadium, it was no surprise that the constant pressing by Orgill was rewarded with his second goal on 41 minutes.

In-form right back Alvas Powell raced towards the stunned visitors, picked out Brian Brown and it was Orgill who found a way past keeper Luis Lopez with a deflected attempt unleashed off his left foot.

By half-time Orgill had gone from zero international goals to hero, and his form was blistering.

He appears to have seriously upped his skillset with endless running into space, seemingly sharpened since January’s move to the Turkish top flight with MKE Ankaragücü – where he bagged six goals from 14 appearances.

After the turnaround the hosts were punished for sloppy defending, Shaun Francis had the ball whipped off him by Elis, who set up Choco Lozano to reduce the deficit on 54 minutes.

The battling Boyz replied immediately, with Lowe heading home Vassell’s telling corner from the six-yard box to restore their deserved two-goal lead.

After six-footer star Orgill was withdrawn midway through the half the contest became noticeably flatter.

Jamaica captain Andre Blake was his usual brilliant self between the sticks, but would have been tested had hard-working Honduras been more clinical in front of goal.

But Blake was beaten at the start of injury time by Rubilio Castillo’s glancing header to leave Jamaica avidly defending against an equaliser.

The victory means that Jamaica, who finished runners up in the past two Gold Cup tournaments, will be able to build on this success with Orgill their shooting star.

Jamaica, who became the inaugural Caribbean country to host a Gold Cup match, saw El Salvador see off Curaçao 1-0 in the first of the double-header at Kingston.

El Salvador are Jamaica’s next opponents and face off at the BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on 21 June. The sides have recently become familiar with each other, with El Salvador only qualifying for the Gold Cup courtesy of March’s shock 2-0 success over the Boyz.

Jamaica will complete their group against relative minnows Curaçao, who captured the 2017 Caribbean Cup. Their squad includes midfielder Leandro Bacuna and right back Cuco Martina, who both boast vast English Premier League experience, but the Dutch Caribbean outfit have yet to score in four Gold Cup games.

The Boyz, who had to sweat it out in stoppage time, should have wrapped up the three points midway through the second half. And without Orgill in attack lacked the same killer instinct, but he will be a marked man from now on so may allow Bailey – who has only just returned from a hamstring injury – the opportunity to shine for the Boyz.

JAMAICA: Blake; Powell, Lowe, Francis, Lawrence; Vassell (Flemingston 77), Hector (Lewis 68), Williams; Orgill (Nicholson 68), Brown, Bailey. Subs: Topey, Foster, Morris, Mattocks, Miller, Watson, Magee, Lambert, Knight.

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