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  • Writer's pictureSadPanda333

EP 2 - Joining Jamaica - Taking on the Big Boys of North America

When the lads returned to their respective clubs after the last international break we had made a decent start to our tenure. Two comfortable victories against two teams that in all fairness we should be beating easily.

With 4 more friendlies to see out 2020 I'm keen to see us progress further, and first up is a double header against our Gold Cup rivals.

 

Match 3 - Friendly - Wednesday 7/10/2020 Mexico (A)

The first thing you will notice is the slight change in formation. I have decided to drop one of the strikers into the attacking midfielder with the role of Shadow Striker.


I feel this change will allow the front 4 to be more connected to the midfield and be more involved in the build up play when going forward.


We were also dealt a huge blow with Leon Bailey ruled out for this squad. Luckily we are well covered in the attacking areas with Demarai Gray slotting into the wide left position.


Mexico were the first real test of this new look Reggae Boyz. The current North American Gold Cup champions had come off of the back of two strong victories in the last international break and were full of quality all over the pitch.


We started very nervously, and gave the ball away in dangerous positions too often during the first 10 minutes. A strong word from the side-line was needed.


As soon as we settled we started to dictate play with Decordova-Reid really making an impression on the game from his new deeper role.


Antonio hit the bar with a strong header and only some last ditch defending by Holgate and Hector kept the score at 0-0 at half time.


Mexico started to really turn the screw in the second half and they took advantage of our usual second half changes.


They had a goal ruled out for offside by VAR and i could feel that a goal was coming. A long ball over the top was latched onto by Macias and powerfully fired passed Blake. The first goal conceded since we took over. 1-0 Mexico.


We probed all we could, however we were unable to cause Mexico any more serious issues and they comfortably saw the game out 1-0 Mexico at Full Time.

 

Match 4 - Friendly - Saturday 10/10/2020 - USA (A)

A couple of personnel changes for the game against the USA. I've moved Antonio out to the right wing and have drafted in Roofe up top. We also handed a first start to Amari'i Bell at left back.


The changes seemed to have had a positive effect as we dominated with opening stages.


Keemar Roofe was put through on goal by a lovely lofted pass from Mason Holgate, he kept his composure to lash a volley into the back of the net. 1-0 Jamaica. This was Roofe's first goal for his new nation and what a massive goal it could be.


We were having a lot of joy down the right side of the field and after already making a mistake for the goal, USA left back Sergino Dest couldn't cope with the powerful running of Antonio.


Antonio capitalized on this and out muscled Dest at the back post to fire the Reggae Boyz 2-0 up going into Half Time.


The second half saw a lot of the same as we caused the USA all sorts of problems out wide. However there were no major chances of note and we limited our hosts to long range shots and half chances.


A stunning 2-0 win on American soil for The Reggae Boyz and our best performance to date. We fully deserved that result and shows huge steps towards competing against the so called "Big Boys"

 

Match 5 - Friendly - Wednesday 11/11/2020 - Costa Rica (A)

We headed into the last two games of the calendar year in high spirits. The team had really gelled after the last round of games and there was a positive atmosphere around the camp.


The positivity was helped by the return of star winger Leon Bailey who made the squad after his recent injury issues. He was limited to 45 minutes by his club and was left on the bench for the trip to Costa Rica.


We also welcomed newly declared Tyler Blackett to the squad. The Man United academy graduate will offer competition at Left back and can cover in Central defence too.


The game started with both teams feeling each other out without much quality on show. Costa Rica have had a successful few years on the international stage with a wonderful run in recent World Cup history, making the Quarter Finals in 2014. Nothing of note to mention in the first half. 0-0 at HT


We needed an injection of quality, queue Leon Bailey. The talismanic winger made an almost immediate impact as he popped up at the back post to head in a wonderful cross from Antonio.


He then lashed in from close range after a goalmouth scramble in the Costa Rica box. Jamal Lowe got himself on the score sheet, his first for Jamaica. FT 3-0.


Another very very good result on the road.


The only downside was a very late injury to two goal hero Bailey, who limped off in the 90th minute and will miss the next game against the Dominican Republic.

 

Match 6 - Friendly - Monday 16/11/2020 - Dominican Republic (A)


A few personnel changes for the final game of the year. Jamal Lowe is given a start on the right wing after his goal against Costa Rica. Tyler Blackett is handed a debut at left back and Kasey Palmer is given a start in the centre of the park.


In a game we were expected to win we played like favourites from the start, Damarai Gray fired us into the lead on 10 minutes. His first for Jamaica.


Bobby Decordova-Reid also got in on the act with a close range finish after Jamal Lowe crossed from the right. 2-0 HT


The scoring was completed midway through the second half as Kasey Palmer scored a stunner from 30 yards out as he found the top corner with a curling finish. 3-0 Jamaica and that's how it finished.

 

All in all a very positive set of results. The loss to Mexico the only negative result but is one we will look to avenge at some point on this journey.


The highlight has to be the performance against the USA. A big win against a team ranked 23rd in the world. The Costa Rica result was also pleasing.


Only conceding 1 goal and scoring 8 also is a pleasing stat.

Next up we move into 2021 full of confidence. The World cup qualifiers in the North American region get under way and we have the small matter of the 2021 North America Gold Cup.


Cheers


Panda

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