Surface, Haiti not enough to stop Boyz’s progression
REGGAE Boyz forward Leon Bailey and defender Damion Lowe hailed Jamaica’s resilience for their win over Haiti, despite what they described as a questionable playing surface at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday.
The national senior men’s football team finished top of Group B in the Concacaf Nations League A, after a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Haitians.
Frantdzy Perrot’s header put Haiti ahead in the 15th minute but Demarai Gray levelled proceedings three minutes later through a deflected strike.
Shamar Nicholson benefited from a goalkeeper error to make it 2-1 in the 57th minute before Bailey’s well-taken finish made it three almost 10 minutes later.
Perrot netted another header in the 87th minute to keep the contest nervy, but the Boyz held on for the win.
While bemoaning the field, Bailey was satisfied with the result.
“The two sides were competitive from the very beginning,” he said. “I think we started very slowly but, gradually, we got into the game. The pitch had a lot to do with today’s game but, nevertheless, we’re grateful for this victory and coming out top in the group.”
Lowe was pleased they achieved their objective of qualifying.
“It’s very difficult to play on this type of pitch but we tried to stick to the game plan, hit the red zones on the side, get crosses in, play in their half, [and] it worked out,” he said. “We got three goals. I think we should have probably scored six but, all in all, it’s a tournament â€” it gets chippy, it gets ugly. You just have to win and advance, and that’s what we did.”
Forward Michail Antonio is excited for what’s to come for the team as they await their opponents for the quarter-finals.
“I’m over the moon, to be fair,” he said. “I would have been a bit more happy if I took one of my chances but we finished top of the league, which is what we set out to do before it started. So, now we find out on Tuesday who we play next, win that game, and keep progressing up.”
Bailey shared similar sentiments ahead of their November assignment.
“It’s definitely going to give us a lot of confidence moving forward in the next coming fixtures,” he said. “We just need to celebrate this, regroup again in the next international break, and just know that we have a lot to play for, and we just have to keep focused and give our best.”
Jamaica now awaits the results from Group A, which determines who they will play in the two-legged quarter-final that starts on November 16. They will face a seeded team in USA, Mexico, Canada or Costa Rica.
The winner of the quarter-finals will not only advance to the Nations League final, but will also qualify for the 2024 Copa America.
The losers, however, will still have an opportunity to qualify for the CONMEBOL tournament through a play-off round which determines the final two spots.