Cory Burke and energetic substitute Junior Flemmings grabbed goals, which was enough to make it a hat-trick of CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final berths for head coach Theodore Whitmore and his Reggae Boyz.
But Jamaica left it late to register a tense 2-1 triumph over little-known Guadeloupe in Orlando’s Exploria Stadium last night (16 July).
Amari’i Bell’s own goal after just four minutes did not deter the buoyant Boyz, with the US-based duo of Burke slotting home a remarkable first-half equaliser and Flemmings bagging what proved to be a last-gasp winner.
And before this match it was not straightforward for Whitmore. His squad seemed to be ever diminishing after striker Bobby Deordova-Reid, who scored a cracker against Suriname, tested positive for Covid-19. Plus with Ravel Morrison already missing, waiting to obtain a US Visa before he can join in, the coach called up Andre Gray to replace injured Javon East for a like-for-like swap of forwards.
Yet it was Burke who ably stepped into Decordova-Reid’s boots, the only change from the previous match, and thundered his long-range effort into the keeper’s bottom left corner to cancel out the bizarre own goal.
The strike came from Ramothe, unmarked on the right wing, which ended up being deflected off Bell and hitting the right post to beat Andre Blake.
Straight after Burke’s strike Guadeloupe head coach Jocelyn Angloma introduced star striker Raphael Mirval, who plies his trade in Italy with Perugia, in place of injured Luther Archimede. This substitution helped to steady the nerves of the French-speaking side, who had bravely battled against the odds to win two preliminary rounds to reach the group stages and had stunned Jamaica with a goal during the early exchanges.
As both Guadeloupe and Jamaica had been guilty of looking suspect in defence in their previous games, it came as no surprise that this encounter comprised end-to-end action. Blair Turgott’s right-footed shot from outside the box was easily saved by ‘keeper Yohann Thuram-Ulien in the centre of the goal on 22 minutes, but within 40 seconds Jamaica skipper Blake was called into action to deny Matthias Phaeton.
Guadeloupe appeared to be missing their influential defender Steve Solvet, suspended following two yellow cards in their 3-1 reversal to Costa Rica, although the back four did well to hold off Jamaica’s speedy attacks and the constant threat of Burke and Shamar Nicholson.
It was Belgium-based Nicholson who went close to scoring on the half-hour mark, but his long-range free-kick narrowly missed finding the top left corner of the gaping goalmouth. Four minutes later Michael Hector should have done better than heading over Turgott’s telling corner.
Jamaica appeared to tire towards the end of the exciting opening half. Yet the industrious Nicholson, who slotted home a glorious goal during the 2-0 success over Suriname, missed two excellent chances to give the Boyz the advantage.
Guadeloupe turned the screws to pressurise Jamaica during first-half added time. Matthias Phaeton’s free-kick whistled over the target, then Blake had to stave off Kevin Malpon’s shot that looked to be heading towards the top left corner.
After the turnaround Nicholson unleashed an ambitious shot that went high and wide to the right of the target, but the Boyz were getting pinned back and their defensive frailties were exposed.
Whitmore, a master tactician in his fourth spell at the helm made a double substitution on the hour-mark with midfielder Devon Williams on for lively Turgott and winger/forward Flemmings replacing Hector.
Within two minutes Burke and Nicholson beautifully combined again, but the Royal Charleroi SC striker screwed the ball off target.
The inspired double substitution transformed the balance of the Boyz with Flemmings constantly setting up Leon Bailey, who had previously been virtually invisible aside from his disallowed goal on 25 minutes. The Bayer Leverkusen star came perilously close to slotting home on three occasions, twice denied by Thuram-Ulien’s spectacular saves.
But the ‘keeper could do nothing about Flemmings’ left footer on 87 minutes, Bailey returned the favour to set up the substitute who instinctively shot from the left side of the box to the centre of the goal which guaranteed them progress in the tournament.
Whitmore will now turn his attention to the Group C decider, his 20th Gold Cup game as coach, when the Boyz return to the Exploria Stadium on 20 July to tackle Costa Rica. Los Ricos, having changed coaches after a lengthy winless streak, seem back in business having registered back-to-back wins in this year’s regional showpiece competition.
JAMAICA: Blake – Powell, Moore, Hector (Flemmings, 60mins), Bell (Lawrence, 70) – Lowe, Johnson, Bailey – Turgott (Williams, 70), Burke, Nicholson (Gray, 82). Subs: Barnes, Taylor, Fisher, Mariappa, Magee, Walker
CONCACAF GOLD CUP SCHEDULE
(*Listed in ET)
10 July | Dallas Metropolitan Area (Group A)
El Salvador 2 Guatemala 0
Mexico 0 Trinidad & Tobago 0
11 July | Kansas City, Kansas (Group B)
Canada 4 Martinique 1
USA 1 Haiti 0
12 July | Orlando, Florida (Group C)
Jamaica 2 Suriname 0
Costa Rica 3 Guadeloupe 1
13 July | Houston, Texas (Group D)
Qatar 3 Panama 3
Honduras 4 Grenada 0
14 July | Dallas Metropolitan Area (Group A)
Trinidad & Tobago 0 El Salvador 2
Guatemala 0 Mexico 3
15 July | Kansas City, Kansas (Group B)
Haiti 1 Canada 4
Martinique 1 USA 6
16 July | Orlando, Florida (Group C)
Guadeloupe 1 Jamaica 2
Suriname 1 Costa Rica 2
17 July | Houston, Texas (Group D)
Grenada v Qatar, BBVA Stadium (7.30pm)
Panama v Honduras, BBVA Stadium (9.30pm)
18 July | Groups A & B
Martinique v Haiti, Toyota Stadium, Dallas (5pm)
USA v Canada, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas (5pm)
Mexico v El Salvador, Cotton Bowl, Dallas (10pm)
Guatemala v Trinidad & Tobago, Toyota Stadium, Dallas (10pm)
20 July | Groups C & D
Costa Rica v Jamaica, Exploria Stadium, Florida (7pm)
Suriname v Guadeloupe, BBVA Stadium, Texas (7pm)
Panama v Grenada, Exploria Stadium, Florida (9pm)
Honduras v Qatar, BBVA Stadium, Texas (9pm)
24 July | Glendale, Arizona (quarter–finals)
QF1 1D v 2A, State Farm Stadium (7.30pm)
QF2 1A v 2D, State Farm Stadium (10pm)
25 July | Arlington, Texas (quarter–finals)
QF3 1C v 2B, AT&T Stadium (7pm)
QF4 1B v 2C, AT&T Stadium (9.30pm)
29 July | Texas (semi–finals)*
SF1 Winner QF1 (1D or 2A) v Winner QF4 (1B or 2C), Q2 Stadium, Austin (7.30pm)
SF2 Winner QF2 (1A or 2D) v Winner QF3 (1C or 2B), NRG Stadium, Houston (10pm)
1 August | Las Vegas, Nevada (Final)
Final Winner SF1 v Winner SF2, Allegiant Stadium
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