France edge Jamaica 1-0 to cop gold in Toyota Unified Football Cup Div 2 final

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, July 21, 2018

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BRIDGEVIEW, Illinois — Battle-scarred Jamaica resisted valiantly in yesterday's Special Olympics Toyota Unified Football Cup division two final but had to settle for the silver medal after falling to a 0-1 defeat to France.

Yann Godart scored a glancing header to seal the deal for France in the 41st minute of the 60-minute encounter on artificial turf inside the dome facility at Toyota Park, home of Major League Soccer team Chicago Fire.

Special Olympics Jamaica were without Captain Moran Singh's leadership and attacking thrust after he pulled up with a hamstring strain in the semi-final against China earlier in the day.

Jamaica dominated that contest and won 2-0 thanks to strikes from Tajae Able (25th minute) and Damion Gordon (39th).

In the other division two semi-final, France had beaten Russia 3-0.

At press time yesterday, South American teams Uruguay and Ecuador were engaged in the division one final.

Uruguay had booked their final spot with a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over United Arab Emirates after the teams were locked at 2-2 at the end of regular time.

Ecuador had progressed in similar fashion, clipping Nigeria 4-3 on penalties after the teams played out a nil-all result.

After the final whistle, Jamaica's head coach Shane Richards was proud of his team's effort but lamented their inability to get shots on target against the French.

“It was a game of two halves — the first half I think we dominated. We were strong and fast and pushed the French team on the back foot. They soaked up the pressure and then came out in the second half and played better. We gave up a free kick and that cost us,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“We weren't satisfied with shooting at goal, and I always told them if we are not taking shots and scoring goals there is no one else to blame.”

Richards credited his team for showing determination and fighting against fatigue in playing five 60-minute encounters in four days.

“There is no hard feeling, we won the silver medal and that's good for us. We defended stoutly, we played with a few niggles and we fought, but the lapse in concentration caused that goal. But there were positives with some players coming out and playing well,” he explained.

After brushing aside China in a lopsided morning game, Jamaica turned their attention to France in the gold-medal clash in the afternoon.

The momentum swung back and forth during the first half with the French taking control over the first 10 to 15 minutes but not threatening the Jamaican goal.

The Jamaicans came into their own over the latter part of the first half but they too failed to mount any serious threat with the France defence standing tall.

The second half saw France regain the ascendancy and almost took the lead when Godart flashed his right footer just wide of goal from a tight angle.

The attacker got on the scoresheet with 19 minutes remaining when he leaped high to get a faint touch on a free kick to beat Jamaica goalkeeper Shaquon Beckford.

Despite mounting attacks from Jamaica the solid France defence and midfield were hardly troubled as they maintained their lead.

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