Jamaica, Guadeloupe battle
Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
JAMAICA survived an early scare and recovered for a 5-3 win against a spirited Cayman Islands in Group One of the male Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-17 World Cup qualifying tournament at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Monday night.
In the opening game of the double-header, Guadeloupe swamped the US Virgin Islands (USVI) 5-0.
Jamaica and Guadeloupe are locked on six points apiece from two games and will meet today for group honours and an automatic spot to the CFU eight-team finals.
The hosts hold the advantage with a superior goal difference, which means they will top the group with a draw.
Last Monday night, Cayman Islands, who lost their first game 3-0 to Guadeloupe, gave Jamaica an early scare when they scored twice in the opening seven minutes. They took the lead when Jamaica's Fabian Grant turned the ball past his goalkeeper, Jahmali Waite, in the fifth minute.
The Caymanians made it 2-0 two minutes later courtesy of a goal by Ramon Martinez.
The Jamaicans fought back on the soggy surface and netted twice in three minutes courtesy of Alex Marshall (15th) and Tajea Brown (18th).
However, the determined Cayman Islands team regained the lead when Zachary Scott scored in the 25th minute.
In the second half, Jamaica picked up the tempo and Marshall netted a penalty in the 62nd minute. They took the lead for the first time in the game courtesy of defender Ajeanie Talbott in the 74th minute, then Marshall, who had a wonderful game, got his hat-trick in the 90th minute.
Coach of Jamaica's team, Andrew Edwards, said his team started slowly due to the conditions and took a while to adapt.
"We certainly didn't start with the level of confidence shown in the opening game last Saturday against USVI," he reflected on their 19-0 win. "The team took a while to adapt to the conditions.
"In the second half it was a good performance as the team adapted well. Overall, we had a good second half," Edwards reasoned.
"Alex Marshall won the game for us," he added. "Cayman Islands must be applauded as they brought the game to us."
Looking towards today's clash against Guadeloupe, Edwards said: "It is more about recuperating from the wet conditions. We will have to recover and prepare for the clash against Guadeloupe."
The national coach is fully aware that a draw would seal a spot in next month final stage in Haiti, but disclosed that the plan is to win the game.
"We plan to win the game. We want to entertain the crowd as we did in the first two games," he said.
Meanwhile, coach of Cayman Islands, Brandon Dion, said his team was not given a fair deal by FIFA referee Moeth Gaymes.
"The team came out and worked hard. However, we got some hard calls from the referee. We have no point, so the plan is to go back, recuperate and prepare for the next game." Dion said.
Cayman Islands vs USVI at 4 p.m.
Jamaica vs Guadeloupe at 7 p.m.