Heimir Hallgrimsson’s pair of friendlies saw his Reggae Boyz troops lacking firepower in front of goal. They managed a scrappy scoreless stalemate in Kingston on Tuesday, bouncing back from being humbled 1-0 over the weekend.
The former Iceland head coach, forced to field a relatively weak set of reserves, would have surely been expecting some of his young future stars to be shining against their regional rivals.
Teenage hot-shot Dujuan “Whisper” Richards, who recently signed a pre-contract with Chelsea, made his inaugural international start as the team was rotated but the encounter was a dreary draw.
Following Jamaica’s first defeat to Trinidad & Tobago in a decade, Chelsea’s Omari Hutchinson started once again with veteran defender Adrian Mariappa as skipper. Ricardo Thomas and Jamoi Topey were brought in to replace weekend flops Richard King and Sue-Lae McCalla.
Yet Angus Eve, Hallgrimsson’s opposite number, was also missing key players. This permitted the former midfielder, the most capped Trinidad & Tobago player with 117 caps, the perfect chance to rue his eye over up-and-coming youngsters from the twin islands.
Jamaica seized early control in the opening exchanges inside the National Stadium, with Soca Warriors’ keeper and skipper Marvin Phillip easily snuffing out any sign of danger.
Richards proved to be a livewire and showed plenty of promise, a vast improvement from his last outing when he was man-marked out of Saturday’s contest.
The Kingston College and Phoenix All-Stars Football Academy striker’s first attempt saw his ambitious 30-yarder whistle over the target on 12 minutes. Ten minutes later another long-range shot sailed over the crossbar.
Although the visitors were stringing together impressive moves with speed from the dangerous-looking trio of Reon Moore, Matthew Woo Ling and El Salvador-based Jomal Williams, they fluffed their opening half opportunities with Alvin Jones coming closest to breaking the deadlock.
Their inability to polish off attacks almost cost the visitors dearly. Cavalier FC attacking midfielder Collin Anderson, Demario Phillips and Richards were simply too wasteful with their chances to score before the half-time whistle.
US-based Ravel Morrison was introduced after the interval, yet still the Boyz were unable to find the finishing touch and their final pass constantly let them down.
Although Jamaica showed far better control and composure with the ball inside the National Stadium than they did on a far from perfect pitch at the Montego Bay Sports Complex last Saturday, they let the fans down overall and Hallgrimsson’s second-half substitutions failed miserably.
It was the inexperienced Soca Warriors who surprisingly grew in confidence after the hour-mark, with Eve throwing new faces into the cauldron. His tactics almost paid dividends when sub Jovin Jones’ 77th-minute free-kick came perilously close to finding the back of the net.
With the Boyz outmanoeuvred in the closing stages, and the fans silenced by another poor performance, it seemed a relief for Hallgrimsson that his misfiring troops didn’t suffer another defeat to a side ranked outside the world’s top hundred.
However, the far from impressive stalemate at least ended Jamaica’s 15-game run without a clean sheet. It will certainly be a different ball game when Hallgrimsson has a stronger line-up to tackle Mexico inside the Estadio Azteca in this month’s CONCACAF Nations League contest.
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