JAMAICA'S Under-20s suffered a major setback in their World Cup qualification, crashing 0-4 to Panama in their Group C top-of-the-table clash at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc yesterday.
Panama topped the group with maximum six points to Jamaica's three, with Puerto Rico finishing bottom without a point.
With this embarrassing loss, the young Reggae Boyz will more than likely play Mexico, the Under-17 World Champions in the quarter-finals on Wednesday for a spot in the FIFA World Cup set for Turkey between June 21 and July 13. At press time last evening, the Mexicans were leading 1-0 against El Salvador.
Panama, on the other hand could face El Salvador in the other quarter-final with the other pairing being USA against Canada, and Costa Rica taking on Cuba for four spots to the World Cup.
Jamaica started a bit tentative and were put on the back foot quite early by Panama and never got in a game they needed to win.
Two goals by Amet Ramirez in the 44th and 56th minutes propelled the Central Americans to their emphatic win, with further goals coming from Jairo Jimenez in the 84th, and Alexander Gonzalez in the 90th, to complete the rout.
Jamaica left out right back Sean McFarlane and brought in Shawn Lawes and he, along with captain Alvas Powell and Damion Lowe, formed the defensive unit of three at the back and it never worked.
Panama exploited that and attacked mainly down the right flank through Jairo Jimenez, and Jamaica should have been behind on at least three occasions in the first 25 minutes.
After 30 minutes the young Reggae Boyz were still under pressure and Luciano Gama was forced to replace left-sided player Zhelano Barnes with Kareem Manning after just 34 minutes.
But minutes after picking up a yellow card, Amet Ramirez gave Panama the lead in the 44th minute, firing home low from just inside the box past goalkeeper Rashaun Patterson.
It was a deserved lead, as after 45 minutes the Jamaicans were never in the hunt, and Kendon Anderson, who got the start up front was starved of service from a lethargic midfield.
With Jamaica needing to win, coach Gama pulled Lowe in the 46th minute and brought on the tall striker Oshane Boothe, and later replaced Paul Wilson with Andrew Allen in search of some punch upfront, but that never happened.
Panama continued to have things very easy, especially down the right flank, and Ramirez found oceans of space to fire Panama into a two-goal advantage in the 56th minute.
Things got even worse for the Jamaicans, as Panama countered too easily and on more than one occasion outnumbered the Jamaican backline and it was not surprising that further goals were scored, as goalkeeper Patterson was left exposed.
In another of their many forays forward, the outstanding Jimenez deservedly got on the scoresheet in the 84th minute before Gonzalez put the icing on the cake in the 90th minute.
It was a pathetic display from the Jamaicans, but credit must go to Panama, who outplayed the young Reggae Boyz in every section of the field.
Teams: Jamaica — Rashaun Patterson, Shawn Lawes, Alvas Powell, Damion Lowe (Oshane Boothe 46th), Zhelano Barnes (Kareem Manning 34th), Romario Jones, Andre Lewis, Omar Holmes, Keneil Kirlew, Paul Wilson (Andrew Allen 65th), Kendon Anderson.
Subs not used: Nico Campbell, Sean McFarlane, Rickardo Oldham, Javaun Waugh, Mark Brown, Cleon Pryce
Panama: Ivan Picart, Josue Flores, Ytzhak Moreno, Roberto Chen, Pedro Jeanine, Jairo Jimienez, Jose Munoz, Julio Segundo, Jordy Melendez, Amet Ramirez (Josiel Nunez 86th), Alexander Gonzalez
Subs not used: Humberto Pelaez, Oscar Linton, Franciso Narbon, Alcides De Los Rios, Romario Piggott, Richard Peralto, Jose Jules.
Booked: Amet Ramirez (44th), Roberto Chen (49th)
Referee: Edvin Jurisevic (USA)
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson (USA), Graeme Browne (St Kitts and Nevis)
Fourth Official: Enrico Wijngaarden (Suriname)
Match Commissary: Rafael Calderon (El Salvador)