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Reggae Boyz Lack Rhythm In World Cup Opener

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Out-of-sorts Jamaica rely on early Shamar Nicholson tap-in to see off Dominican Republic

Shamar Nicholson’s 16th-minute strike was enough to secure maximum FIFA World Cup qualifying points for Jamaica against relative minnows Dominican Republic last night (6 June ).

It was a lacklustre performance on home soil, with the array of Jamaica stars failing to shine inside Kingston’s National Stadium with head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson’s unbalanced 4-1-3-2 tactics.

Although the Reggae Boyz won by the skin of their teeth, Bobby Decordova-Reid was guilty of missing his second-half spotkick. Had the Fulham hot-shot found the back of the net it would have been a flattering result, as the sides were arguably on the same level throughout.

Hallgrimsson will demand a vast improvement in Dominica for Sunday’s final World Cup qualifier. This will be Jamaica’s last game before they tackle Copa America 2024, and look in desperate need of polishing up their attacking prowess.


Hallgrimsson admitted: “These strikers, with all their individual quality, are not used to playing in a two-striker formation. So we need time to get them to sync a little bit better. But in general, with the ball we were not good.

“Attacking-wise we were very slow, everything we did was low tempo. In the second half we got better, we created more chances with build-up play and creation. But, in general, it was too slow for my taste.”

After a tepid start to the Group E tie, a rapid counterattack instigated by Renaldo Cephas was polished off by Nicholson. The striker, currently on loan in the French second tier with Clermont, slipped the ball into the bottom right corner with a simple tap-in from the centre of the box.

There was little goalmouth action and only a handful of corners during a dull opening half, with Hallgrimsson switching his tactics by bringing on Karoy Anderson for sweeper Damion Lowe for the second half.

There was more purpose about the Boyz following the break, but it was Dominican Republic’s Dorny Romero who looked razor sharp only for the fast forward to constantly get caught offside.

With neither side able to make their mark in this closely-fought contest, Hallgrimsson felt he needed to safeguard a couple of players that had received a yellow card. Richard King was a straight swap in defence for Michael Hector, with forward Deshane Beckford thrown on for midfielder Daniel Johnson.

A second goal to kill off plucky Dominican Republic was desperately required by Hallgrimsson. Following a rare break by the hosts, a 73th-minute foul on Cephas by Luiyi de Lucas resulted in a penalty. Decordova-Reid calmly stepped up, only to be denied by the right-hand post and leave the Boyz forced to keep stifling any danger.


With Jamaica unable to provide much service for Nicholson and West Ham striker Michail Antonio, the Boyz only managed two shots on target all game, it will be back to the drawing board for Hallgrimsson.

Although he has managed to grind out positive results at the helm, albeit only slender successes, the former Iceland manager has yet to oversee any eye-catching performances.

Dominica, who were whalloped 6-0 by Guatemala, should be a breeze for the Boyz. Maybe Hallgrimsson will allow 19-year-old striker Kaheim Dixon a starting berth rather than the eight minutes the emerging talent managed against the Dominican Republic.

Shuffling the pack is urgently needed if Jamaica are not going to overly rely on their usual suspects and questionable tactics. There’s little doubt that Dominica will be the whipping boys at Windsor Park in Roseau, which will be a perfect scenario for Hallgrimsson to fine-tune his attacking tactics.

JAMAICA | Waite – Leigh, Hector (King, 71), Bernard, T.Gray – D. Lowe (Anderson, 45) – Cephas (Lambert, 90), Johnson (Beckford, 71), Decordova-Reid – Antonio, Nicholson (Dixon, 82). Subs: Davis, Campbell, Ricardo Reid Jr, Boiyce-Clarke, Redi, Irving, Marshall.

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