Hallgrimsson praises game-changers Nicholson, Lowe for Canada triumph
NATIONAL senior men’s football team Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson hailed the impact of Shamar Nicholson and Damion “Nana” Lowe in their 3-2 second-leg win over Canada on Tuesday at BMO Field in Toronto. It saw Jamaica advancing to the semi-finals of the Concacaf Nations League in March and to the CONMEBOL Copa America tournament next summer.
The contribution of Nicholson was critical with his three goals over the two legs, including the brace on Tuesday evening which helped the national senior men’s team advance on away goals with a 4-4 aggregate scoreline.
Responding to the Jamaica Observer, Hallgrimsson says that the 26-year-old striker showed leadership qualities when they found themselves behind.
“I like Shamar; he is a very emotional player,” Hallgrimsson said. “[He] was one of the guys at half-time that kind of got everyone going, so not only is he a good footballer but he is playing well in France at the moment. I give him a lot of credit; [at] half-time sometimes [he was] too emotional but he did really well in the game — on and off the pitch.
“I’ve been watching him in France. He’s playing better and better in every game so I hope he’ll carry these goals to France as well and start scoring there on a regular basis. I’ve always liked him, both as a person and a player.”
Hallgrimmson also had high praise for Damion Lowe who moved from his natural position of centre back to central midfield at the start of the second half, with the team trailing 1-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.
The 30-year-old, despite picking up a yellow card in the 57th minute, had a slide tackle and pass to Nicholson for the equalising goal which gave the Boyz the push.
The coach says Lowe’s brilliant performance in midfield was no surprise to him.
“We’ve been thinking about it for some time,” Hallgrimsson said. “It has been a little bit of a shallow position in Jamaica so we don’t have many options in that position, we don’t have many playing at a high level as a midfielder. I just have to give credit to Nana. It was his kind of initiative, saying ‘I can play this position.’
“We looked at a game I think we played against Serbia where he played in midfield. He was winning a lot of tackles and [today] we just needed motor in midfield. We needed a fighter in this game just to get us in and he surely brought some spirit in the second half — and fantastic second half for him. When you have a guy like this he will light up the other guys around him so a lot of credit to him.”
Jamaica played the final five minutes of the second half, plus nine minutes of stoppage time, with 10 players as Demarai Gray was sent off for two questionable yellow cards.
Hallgrimsson was unhappy with the match officials throughout the game but was thrilled his team managed to hold on for the win.
“This was a team win, and I think we played against a strong opposition,” he said. “The Canadian team is a really good team, done much better than Jamaica in recent years, but I thought especially the referee was not fair. In some cases when there is an injured player — on two occasions we needed to change them — they didn’t stop when they went down, and I thought it was really unfair. Maybe it was my emotions, and if I am rude I’m sorry but I think we were fighting against a lot of things and the players just rose above it and finished the game.”
The locally based players and delegation arrived on the island on Wednesday afternoon while the majority of the squad returned to their clubs in Europe and the USA.