Boyz hold Egypt
Boyz in respectable 2-2 draw with Egypt
LONDON, England — England-based Simon Dawkins and Joel Grant hit maiden goals to help Jamaica's Reggae Boyz to a pleasing 2-2 result with Egypt here at the Matchroom Stadium yesterday.
The Boyz, who had earlier lost 1-2 and 0-1 to Serbia and Switzerland, respectively, on their glamour four-match friendly international tour, went behind very early on the cold and drizzly Wednesday evening. However, Dawkins and Grant struck before the break to put the Boyz ahead, only to succumb to unrelenting pressure by the North Africans late on.
Head coach Winfried Schaefer was beaming at game's end, not only for the end result, but more for the eye-catching performance from the team for the first 50 minutes.
"I'm proud of my team, I take my cap off to them," he told the Jamaica Observer. "Two-two is a good result, though we could have won with a little more luck," he quipped.
He added: "We played maybe 50 minutes good, of which 10 minutes we played very good, but we saw the same problems like before, as we weren't able to keep the ball in front (in attack) because our striker tends to go forward all the time when the midfielders bring the ball forward, instead of moving back towards the midfielders to collect the pass and then go forward to bring other players into the attack. But I know this and we cannot change it in one day, it will take time.
"In the last 30 minutes the ball kept coming back into our half too quickly and the pressure was enormous on the midfielders and defenders and it forced them to work much harder than the other team."
With majority support, especially in the south end of the intimate 9,000-seater ground, the Boyz were stunned as early as the fourth minute when Mohamed El Neny rose high to head a right-sided corner high into the net with goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett beaten.
The Boyz have been exhibiting progress on their tour thus far and yesterday was no different as they rose above the early setback and countered immediately to force a corner at the other end, but the Africans were alert to the danger to prevent Michael Seaton from pulling the trigger at the edge of the penalty area.
The Jamaicans were definitely getting into a positive rhythm and soon after they moved the ball well to carve out an opening, but Christopher Humphrey had advanced too deep inside the penalty box to turn in Romario Campbell's teasing cross from the left.
Amid a light drizzle Jamaica squeezed an equaliser in the 27th minute, much to the delight of their supporters who were seated right behind the south end goal.
It came from an intricate inter-passing play from mid-pitch by Lloyd Doyley, Grant and Humphrey, who centred for Dawkins from the left flank to execute a cheeky back heel flick past El Shenawi.
Schaefer was particularly pleased with the goal, especially after working on that strategic play on Tuesday in training.
"We made two goals and the first goal was like what we did in training on Tuesday, where we made return passes, then play the ball to the wings for crosses with the striker arriving at the near post. We made one goal from it, but that was not enough, we need to make it more times. But we need to train more for that to happen," he explained.
Derby Country's Dawkins was also elated at his first international goal.
"It feels great. I'm so happy to finally get it (goal tally) under way, and it is a great result for us as well," was his immediate response.
"The second half wasn't how we planned it, but it was a good result for all of us."
With the wind in their sails, the Boyz hit top gear and were positive in their approach play. On one such occasion they reaped their rewards seven minutes from the break. Grant was at the centre of it all when he battled resolutely to regain possession before playing to Seaton, who was slammed into by a defender, but Grant was most alert to the play and he zipped in to nick the ball away and raced towards the centre of the danger area on goal and he kept his composure to bamboozle a defender before curling a sweet left-footer inside the goal for Jamaica to lead.
He celebrated his maiden strike by racing towards the touch line to greet his teammates on the bench, the last major action in an entertaining first half.
The Boyz started the second half as purposeful as they ended the first half with captain Rodolph Austin flashing Campbell's right-sided corner wide of the mark.
But from then on Chelsea's Mohamed Salah took control of midfield to engineer his team's attack with pacy and teasing dribbles, forcing the Jamaicans to defend deep into their half. Salah tricked his way into the box but was denied by Barrett, but on 72 minutes he picked out substitute Basem Moursi with a well-flighted pass for him to head home and salvage a share of the spoils.
Jamaica will move on to their next assignment when they take on 1998 World Cup champions France in Lille on Sunday.
Teams: Jamaica — Jacomeno Barrett, Adrian Mariappa, Wes Morgan, Lloyd Doyley (Hughan Gray 81st), Kemar Lawrence, Rodolph Austin, Joel Grant, Simon Dawkins (Jamar Loza 84th), Christopher Humphrey, Michael Seaton (Dino Williams 77th), Romario Campbell (Nicholas Beckett 63rd).
Booked: Loza (88th)
Subs not used: Ryan Thompson, John-Ross Edwards, Nicholy Finlayson, Upstan Edwards
Egypt — Ahmed El Shenawi, Aly Ghazal, Ahmed Saeid, Ahmed El Mohammadi, Hussin El Sayed, Mohamed El Neny, Hossam Ghaly, Hossni Abdrabo (Ahmed Sherwedo 64th), Mohamed Salah, Ahmed Mammoudi (Saleh Gomaa 72nd), Khaled Kamar (Basem Moursi 46th).
Booked: El Sayed (90th)
Subs not used: Essam El Hadary, Mohamed El Shenawi, Mohamed Awaad, Shawqi El Saeid, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Dwedar, Mhmoud Ezzat, Ibrahim Abd El Khalek, Tarek Hamed, Ahmed Hassan, Salah Amin
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistant Referees: Jake Collin, Darren England
Fourth Official: Michael Oliver