Jamaica put their recent problems behind them with precious CONCACAF Nations League success on home soil
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz showed their class to snap up a rare victory with a 3-1 success over minnows Suriname at Kingston’s National Stadium last night (7 June). Having been held to a shock 1-1 stalemate at the weekend by the Dutch-speaking South Americans, normal service was resumed with a stronger performance to seal maximum points in their CONCACAF Nations League tie.
Interim head coach Paul Hall, who was rumoured to have resigned following Saturday’s performance, was in the dug-out as the Boyz ran rings in the second half against a team who had recently lost to both French Guiana and Thailand.
Ravel Morrison’s 25-yard free-kick broke the deadlock on 16 minutes. Yanic Wildschut levelled matters five minutes later, but Jamaica entered half-time with a slender lead thanks to Junior Flemmings’ strike. The industrious Jamal Lowe slotted home with ease to complete the scoring on 70 minutes, to ease the pressure on the squad.
With the Boyz refusing to train the night before, which resulted in an emergency meeting for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the subsequent resignation of JFF general secretary Dalton Wint, the hosts looked rusty at times.
Following the recent controversy surrounding the Boyz and their fallout with the JFF, on top of a string of poor performances, it came as no surprise that there was only a moderate set of spectators to enjoy the must-win match for Jamaica.
A sluggish start by the hosts was capitalised on by Suriname, who almost took an early lead. But Ridgeciano Haps’ left-footed effort was brilliantly blocked by the outstretched leg of keeper Amal Knight.
While the visitors were producing attacks from the back with calculated precision, in contrast Jamaica kept attempting long balls towards striker Shamar Nicholson to no avail.
The Boyz managed to score against the run of play with their first decent build-up. Richard King went on an ambitious run, only to be halted by an over-zealous defender. Morrison executed a swinging free-kick into the top left corner past Warner Hahn to stun Suriname and send the home supporters wild.
Suriname, who had bossed the opening quarter-of-an-hour, continued to surge forward at every opportunity and equalised in style. Defender Javain Brown, who had a nightmare game in Suriname, was caught out of position with sole striker Wildschut breezing into the penalty area and firing across goal past Knight.
Jamaica bounced back from this disappointment of conceding, with livewire Flemmings coming close to immediately restoring the lead. Further goal-scoring chances went begging with Nicholson flashing his effort across the box plus Jamal Lowe, Flemmings and Morrison were unable to complete the finishing touch.
French-based star Flemmings was finally rewarded for his constant runs at goal, polishing off a neat cutback pass from Morrison to beat Hahn with a low shot that trickled over the line on 43 minutes.
Following the turnaround the hosts stepped up a gear and did not disappoint, after initially soaking up early pressure and sighing a relief with Diego Biseswar’s near-miss.
Hall brought on whizzy winger Leon Bailey for King on 48 minutes, to alter the formation from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2. His tactics contributed to lifting the Boyz for a battle, as they hit a purple patch.
Suddenly Jamaica were in cruise control, peppering the Suriname penalty area with a series of attempts. The closest they came to scoring was Morrison’s 20-yard ambitious drive, which Hahn pushed over the target.
Bailey made a difference to the dynamics, so it was only a matter of time before the hosts extended their lead. Jamal Lowe raced into the area and from close range scored Jamaica’s third to clinch vital points.
Jamaica’s fourth success in five meetings with Suriname lifted them to top spot in the three-team group ahead of their home clash against mighty Mexico on 14 June.
Before that match, the Boyz travel to tackle twice-World Cup winners Uruguay in a hastily-arranged friendly on 11 June.
After these back-to-back games against South American heavyweights, the JFF are expected to make a decision about who will be appointed as head coach. Hall is seemingly their only option.
JAMAICA: Knight – Bell, D.Lowe, King (Bailey, 48), Brown – Flemmings, Morrison (Parris, 86), Williams (Topey, 86), Lambert – Nicholson, J.Lowe (Aarons, 75). Subs: Chambers, Campbell, Simpson, Magee, Chong, Green, Bygrave.
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