On to the next one!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

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On to the next one. That was the collective message from Jamaica's players as they reflected on the point earned in the hard-fought 1-1 result in Costa Rica last Wednesday.

The draw gave the Reggae Boyz their first point of the Concacaf World Cup football qualifiers after previously losing 1-2 in Mexico followed by a 0-3 humiliation at the hands of Panama in Kingston.

In Wednesday's riveting draw at the National Stadium in San Jose, the hosts, who took a third-minute lead through Jimmy Marin's strike, held the upper hand for most of the first half.

But the Jamaicans, boosted by Shamar Nicholson's 47th-minute equaliser, were the dominant force in the second half. If not for wayward finishing and poor choices in their opponents' third — Nicholson was among the culprits — the Boyz would have left the Costa Rican capital with all three points.

“We were the [better] team on the pitch, we should have taken advantage of it, but…it has already passed and we cannot fix the past; we only can fix what is in front of us. I think if we can play like this I think we can have a long way to go,” Nicholson, 24, said during a post-match interview.

“We got a point which, maybe in the long run, can help us. I think it's important now that we focus on the next games.

“This is our first point, which is good; in our first two games we were defeated,” he reiterated.

The tall striker, who plays for Sporting Charleroi in the Belgian top division, has scored both Jamaica's goals in the octagonal round of qualifying. But he is striving to be more clinical.

“I'm disappointed with my game overall. I think I could do much better, but that's already behind [us],” said Nicholson.

Left-back Kemar Lawrence, who delivered the delightful cross for Nicholson's strike against Costa Rica, said it was a “grinding” effort to salvage a point from the contest.

“We gave up an early one, but we tried our best to dig ourselves out of that hole. We entered the second half and we tried to control the game. We tried to pass around the ball with some kind of conviction and to bring energy to the game,” the 28-year-old player said.

“Overall, it's a grinding mentality that we went out there with. We told everybody to be confident both on and off the ball and drag their defenders in places they didn't want to go. I needed more than one point on this trip, but that's what we got…we have to go forward from this,” Lawrence, who plays for Toronto FC in the United States Major League Soccer, added.

The Boyz are last in the eight-team points table with a one point, while Costa Rica (two points) are just ahead of them.

Mexico, who lead with seven points, are followed by Canada (five), United States (five), and Panama (five), while Honduras and El Salvador are on two points each.

The Jamaicans' next scheduled qualifying games are away to United States on October 7; at home to Canada on October 10; and away to Honduras on October 13.

The teams in the Concacaf octagonal round of qualifying are slated to play each other in a round robin, home-and-away format.

The top three finishers will progress automatically to the 2022 World Cup, with the fourth-place side heading to an intercontinental play-off for one more spot in Qatar.