By Howard Walker Reporting from Aruba
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Jamaica's Under-20 footballers will be looking to wrap-up their Group H Caribbean Qualifiers in style against Aruba tonight, after brushing aside Antigua & Barbuda 4-1 on Thursday night.
The young Reggae Boyz, who will be the flagship team for the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) right now, need only a draw to advance to the next round against Haiti and St Vincent & the Grenadines.
Originally, the winners from this group should have advanced straight to the CONCACAF final round, but that format have been changed and Jamaica will have another round to play in January in Trinidad & Tobago.
The final CONCACAF round will also be staged in March where Mexico, Canada, USA, Costa Rica, El Salvador and the hosts Trinidad & Tobago await two other teams.
Head coach Donovan Duckie is not taking anything for granted and will be going all out to secure win number two and top the group, hence qualifying automatically to the next round.
Said Duckie: "We are looking forward to the next challenge against Aruba which I think will be a more tactical than physical game which will suit us in terms of our style of play".
With Aruba edging Antigua & Barbuda 3-2 in the first encounter, it sets up a top-of-the-table clash with the Jamaicans for group honours tonight.
The young Reggae Boyz turned in a workmanlike performance against Antigua & Barbuda, doing just enough to secure the three points.
In front of approximately 50 cheering Jamaicans living in Aruba, Vancouver Whitecaps striker Dever Orgill opened the scoring in the 29th minute, firing pass the Antiguan goalkeeper.
Four minutes later, left back Christopher Banner mesmerised the Antiguan backline and his cross was bundled in by a defender for an own goal in the 33rd minute.
The small contingent of Jamaicans was now celebrating wildly, blowing horns, whistling and waiving the national flag, much to the envy of the Aruban football team which was rooting for Antigua.
Andre Campbell collected a pass from Orgill on the left flank, just on top of the key and fired a ferocious grounder that flew into the back of the net in the 41st minute.
Two minutes later, the celebrations were still going on when Reno midfielder, Davion Thorpe scored the goal of the match. He powered through the midfield and from 30 metres out, unleashed a scud-like missile that rocketed past the goalkeeper and nestled in the roof on the net in the 43rd minute.
Akeem Thomas pulled one back for Antigua from the penalty spot in the 54th minute, but had it not been for some poor decision-making in the box, Jamaica could have won by a much wider margin.
"Let me say congratulation to them for coming out victorious because it was difficult for us to play on this surface for the first time as a group," said Duckie.
"I thought the surface did some harm to us where a few injuries were created by the studs hitching in the turf. We didn't have the proper footwear and that was a hindrance to us in finishing some chance.
"The first half we got four goals and took our foot off the gas pedal because we wanted to consolidate a little bit. I was very disappointed for conceding a goal. The Antiguan team is a very physical one and the referee had a poor game. It was an overall good effort," he added.
Young midfielder Romario Campbell had two bones broken in his hand, while both centre halves Keithy Simpson and Andre Darby had painful knocks but will be available for the final encounter.
Jamaica: 13-Andre Blake, 04-Andre Darby, 03-Keithy Simpson, 06-Levaughn Williams, 07-Evan Taylor, 11-Davian Thorpe, 15-Andre Campbell (05-Andre Steele 78th), 16-Christopher Banner, 10-Romario Campbell (08-Kadian Wynter 46th), 19-Dever Orgill (14-Andre Clennon 8th).
Subs not used: 01-Dennis Taylor, 20-Theo Brown, 12-Lival Wilson, 18-Shavon Brown
Booked: Andre Campbell 70th
Antigua & Barbuda: 09-Roy Gregory, 11-Dia Martin, 18-Yohanne Nicholas, 06-Darien Roach, 02-Joel Thomas, 05-Akeem Thomas, 14-Cantius Philogene, 08-Lauron Luke, 03-Okeem Challenger, 04-Stefan Smith, 15-Keniel Powell (7-Quinton Griffith 40th).
Subs not used: 16-Mervyn Hazewood, 13-Chad-Vidal, 12-Graig Heskey, 17-Elvis Thomas, 10-Jari Jackson, 01-Molvin James.
Booked: Philogene 6th, Roach 24th.
Referee: Geoffrey Hospedales (T&T)
Assistants: Ramon Louisville (Suriname), Pablo Yepes (Netherland Antilles)
Fourth Official: Neal Brizan (T&T)
Match Commissary: Hubert Isena (Netherland Antilles)
Referee Inspector: Dave Meikle (Jamaica)