HEADING HOME - Boyz clip Suriname in scratchy display

By Ian Burnett
Sport Editor

Monday, November 19, 2018

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Jamaica's Reggae Boyz stretched their unbeaten run to three games after edging Suriname 2-1 in their Concacaf Nations League encounter inside Montego Bay Sports Complex on Saturday night.

Cory Burke put the hosts ahead after just seven minutes, and Darren Mattocks doubled the lead in the 16th minute, only for Donnegy Fer to reduce the deficit on 35 minutes.

But the welcoming result aside, Montegonians deserved more and wanted more and left the venue unimpressed with another insipid rendition by Theodore Whitmore's band of Reggae Boyz.

Still, at press time yesterday, the result left Jamaica in third place in the Concacaf Nations League standings on maximum nine points. They trail Haiti and Cuba, who have also registered maximum points, but with superior goal differences. Haiti lead with a plus 16, Cuba have a plus 14 and Jamaica currently sit on a plus 11.

The Boyz came out of the blocks quickly and pushed the visitors back into their penalty box early on and it was no surprise when they broke the deadlock. Jamaica earned a free-kick on the right side of the penalty box very close to the goal line when Owayne Gordon was brought down while speeding into the danger area.

The left-footed Kemar Lawrence delivered an inviting inswinger for Burke to rise highest and nod powerfully into the goal from inside the six-yard box.

Shortly after Mattocks was bundled over inside the penalty area and St Kitts and Nevis referee Tristley Bassue had no choice but to award the spot kick which the DC United striker duly dispatched with ease.

With just a quarter of the game gone, it appeared that Jamaica would finally thrash the Surinamese for the first time after scoring 1-0 victories in their three prior wins, but alas, they somehow conjured up the spirits to squander chances after chances before indiscipline inevitably set in with chaos in tow.

Fer, who plays in the Red Stripe Premier League with Portmore United, pulled one back for his team off a deflection of Damion Lowe, after the Jamaican defence line was breached on the left side.

But Mattocks should have reclaimed the two-goal cushion after he was picked out with a cute but simple pass by Peter-Lee Vassell, but the veteran Major League Soccer player overindulged in turning his marker and lost the chance to shoot and goalkeeper Claidel Kohinor accepted gratefully.

On the resumption, Mattocks was again presented with another early opportunity to make amends after he out muscled his marker inside the left channel of the penalty area but after placing the ball past the floored Kohinor, he watched on in disbelief as the ball rebounded from the base of the left upright and into the gloves of the goalkeeper.

Before he knew it, Mattocks was in another one-on-one situation with Kohinor who proved his master yet again from an acute angle.

The visitors returned from the dressing room with a lot more belief in themselves and it translated on the pitch as they exposed the Jamaican midfield and defence repeatedly.

The Jamaicans appeared to lack patience, composure and appropriate decision-making in attack and it manifested most glaringly in the latter stages of the game when Mattocks broke free on the right channel and with substitute Javon East racing in the centre in anticipation of a centre pass, Mattocks cut the ball back on his left boot and although the cross was made, it was high and awkward and East shot over the top.

Both players could be seen remonstrating with each other in a scene that was not the most palatable, and at the end of the game, a lot of heads were bowed, an obvious acknowledgement of an underwhelming performance.

Head Coach Whitmore admitted that he did not know what went wrong, but he was clear that the team regressed on the night as the players were their own worst enemies.

“I don't know what went wrong today but hopefully we can fix it for the El Salvador game (next March),” he told journalists at a post-game press conference.

“I think it was a step back today, it was an imbalanced team with players out with injuries like Fisher (Oneil), Alvas (Powell), Mariappa (Adrian), Hector (Michael), who got red-carded in the Bonaire game…”

The coach said he was okay with the attacking talent in the pool of players, but has concerns with the lack of quality defensive players at his disposal.

Reflecting on the game, he said: “I think for the first 20 to 25 minutes we were able to manage the game and we were up two zero and that's where it all went wrong and we let the Surinamese back into the game, and we conceded what I would call a soft goal.

“I am disappointed with the performance, though I am satisfied with the result.”

Whitmore argued that although they had only two training sessions going into the match, he had expected a much better performance from the team based on the quality players in the 20-man squad.

The Jamaica Observer understands that there were heated arguments in the dressing room at game's end, as players vented their frustration at the poor performance.

Whitmore hinted that there could be changes in the near future as some players appeared complacent, non-committed or just not good enough.

“There are a lot of decisions to be made where the national team is concerned,” said the coach, without further explanation. But he assessed that there was a lack of communication, particularly with the goal conceded and that the team wasn't organised and “we didn't stay compact and we gave our opponents a lot of room to play”.

His clearest signal yet was that “some of the players here now are a bit complacent, so that is another thing that we need to address. I think we need players to start getting hungry to wear the Jamaica shirt again.”

Captain Andre Blake was in agreement with his coach.

“As Tappa (Whitmore) said we got three points and that's very important because we could have lost the game, so that's one positive. But it was an indiscipline performance, an unprofessional performance when you look at the guys we had on the pitch tonight — quality players who are playing overseas and the local guys are very good players and we made the game a lot more difficult than it actually should have been, but I think it is still a building process and going forward we should get better.”

Meanwhile, Suriname's coach Dean Gorre was full of praise of his players, who gave everything they got.

“For me, I'm proud of my players to play this game in a way that we competed well against a very good team, of course, Jamaica. Considering we are an amateur country with amateur competition and most Jamaican players are full professionals and we have only one professional and funny enough he plays in Jamaica — the rest of the boys are amateurs in Suriname — so to get beat (2-1) by a talented, top team, they (Jamaica) deserve to win because of their quality, but we did well and I think with a bit of luck we could have stolen a draw. But anyway, I cannot complain about the work ethic of the players,” he said.

He explained that it was not the team's plan to sit back and absorb pressure in the early stages, but that was just how the game unfolded. “One of the things we didn't want to do, but sometimes you go with the tactics and it goes against you, and there were nerves as well, with players who are not used to this high level of football.

“As the game went on they gave us a lot of space to play as well and our players started believing in themselves and this became difficult for Jamaica to defend against at times and we got the goal through a very good counter-attack.”

And Gorre admitted that he was surprised how easy the Jamaica second and third lines of defence were breached.

“Yes, it was easier than the players thought because they thought it would be hard to go through the lines, but we made it difficult for them,” he assessed.

Teams: Jamaica – Andre Blake, Fabion McCarthy (Shaun Francis 74th), Ladale Richie, Ricardo Morris, Darren Mattocks, Cory Burke, (Javon East 68th), Je-Vaughn Watson, Peter-Lee Vassell (Devon Williams 59th), Owayne Gordon, Kemar Lawrence, Damion Lowe

Booked: Vassell (45th+2), Lowe (75th)

Subs not used: Amal Knight, Ricardo Thomas, Jamiel Hardware, Alex Marshall, Dane Kelly, Maalique Foster

Suriname – Claidel Kohinor, Ivanildo Misidjan, Miguel Darson (Shorano Mawie 82nd), Purey De Baas, Ervin Tjon A Loi, Donnegy Fer, Eduard Sergino, Stefano Rijssel, Ivenzo Comvalius, Saverio Adenie (Moreno Asoman 78th), Brian Elshot

Booked: Fer (35th), De Baas (37th), Darson (83rd), Mawie (90th)

Subs not used: Sersinio Profijt, Cherwin Doorson, Anduelo Amoeferie, Foxey Fer, Pressen Waterberg, Cerezo Haabo, Sorencio Juliaans, Alvaro Verwey, Renzo Akrosie

Referee: Tristley Bassue (St Kitts and Nevis)

Assistant Referees: Ike Inniss (St Kitts and Nevis), Helpys Feliz (Dominican Republic)

Fourth Official: Sherwin Johnson (Guyana)

Referee Assessor: Maria Saez Armenteros (Cuba)

Match Commissioner: Peggy Guillen (Costa Rica)

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