Lambs to the slaughter
World Cup-bound France hammer Boyz 8-0 in friendly
LILLE, France — Suddenly, reality struck. The French lesson ended 8-0, and it could have been worse.
The serving 'Les Bleus' dished out at the Stade Pierre Mauroy last evening indicated that Jamaica's Reggae Boyz are still some distance off the highest standard of international football.
But as good as the 1998 World Cup champions were in their send-off party for Brazil ahead of today's charter flight to South America, the Boyz, likely fatigued through an exhaustive four-game friendly international schedule inside 13 days covering thousands of miles across two continents, were far too generous to their hosts, probably subconsciously as appreciation for the first-class hospitality rendered by the French Football Federation.
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (38th and 63rd), Paris Saint Germain's Blaise Matuidi (20th and 66th), and substitute Antoine Griezmann of Real Sociedad (77th and 88th) hit doubles, while Yohan Cabaye, also of Paris Saint Germain (17th), and Oliver Giroud of Arsenal (53rd), completed the rout.
Head coach Winfried Schaefer was not surprised by the performance, even if he thought the final score might have been flattering.
"It is not a surprise for me, maybe not 8-0," he told the Jamaica Observer at game's end.
He also suggested that in hindsight the game against Egypt last Wednesday, finalised by the Jamaica Football Federation as the fourth game on the tour, was probably too much for the team at this time, especially considering that majority of the players are on holidays.
The Boyz left Jamaica on May 24, opened the series against Serbia in New Jersey two days later before travelling transatlantic to Switzerland to face that home country in Luzern on May 30. They then flew to London to engage Egypt on June 4, before closing out the series last night.
The game, promoted as a send-off party for their World Cup team trying to rebuild credibility on the international stage following the debacle in South Africa four years ago, witnessed a sold out 45,000 spectators and they left the impressive venue in high spirits and with confidence, but it is unlikely that they will encounter any easy pickings over the next month in Brazil.
Though goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett started nervously, committing a number of silly errors early on, it was the Reggae Boyz who went closest in the opening minutes when a right-sided free kick by captain Rodolph Austin was narrowly poked wide by Adrian Mariappa, though a flag was raised for offside.
In between Barrett's antics, Christopher Humphrey produced a teasing cross which tempted Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper and France captain Hugo Lloris, but no yellow-shirted player was able to turn it in.
With Cabaye marshalling the troops from deep in midfield, he seized the opportunity to break forward and with the Jamaican defence hesitant, a ball played over the top was headed across the face of the goal for the PSG midfielder to stab home to energise his supporters.
It wasn't long before the lead was doubled when Matuidi was the benefactor of a neat one-touch pass from Benzema and he needed no invitation to drive home low and hard at Barrett's near post from outside the penalty area. The big Jamaican goalkeeper should definitely have done better.
Benzema kept dropping into midfield to orchestrate attacking plays and before the interval he worked his way from the left flank and with the Jamaican defence running scared, and he curled home into the far corner. This time Barrett could not be faulted.
The Boyz dug themselves a deeper hole on the resumption when they gave up possession inside the French half and 'Les Bleus" broke quickly to find the darting Benzena, who fed a superb pass for Giroud to slot home.
And the Real Madrid striker, now driving fear into the hearts of the Boyz, was allowed time and space yet again inside the penalty box and he made no mistake.
And after Manchester United's Patrice Evra crossed for Matuidi to sweep home from two yards and complete his brace. Banzema missed his three timer by mere inches as he slammed a left-footer against the corner of Barrett's right upright and cross bar.
Still there was time for Griezmann to help himself to easy goals after a comedy of errors in the Jamaican defensive third gifted possession of the ball to the home side.
The Boyz will depart Lille today to return to their various places of abode, via London and Miami.
Teams: Jamaica — Jacomeno Barrett, Wes Morgan, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence (Hughan Gray 46th), Lloyd Doyley, Rodolph Austin, Nicholas Beckett (Romario Campbell 46th), Joel Grant, Simon Dawkins (John-Ross Edwards 85th), Michael Seaton (Dino Williams 63rd), and Christopher Humphrey (Ramil Sheriff 74th).
Subs not used: Ryan Thompson, Upstan Edwards, Nicholas Finlayson.
France — Hugo Lloris, Mathieu Debuchy (Bacary Sagna 46th), Patrice Evra, Raphael Varane, Mamadou Sakho, Yohan Cabaye (Rio Mavuba 59th), Mathieu Valbuena (Loic Remy 80th), Olivier Giroud (Antoine Griezmann 71st), Karim Benzema (Morgan Schneiderlin 87th), Blaise Matuidi (Paul Pogba 72nd), Moussa Sissoko.
Subs not used: Michael Landreau, Stephane Ruffier, Lucas Digne, Laurent Koscielny, Eliaquin Mangala, and Remy Cabella.
Booked: Cabaye (45th)
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Germany)
Assistants: Christoph Bornhorst, Marco Achmuller (Germany)
Fourth Official: Bastian Dankert (Germany)