Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Boyz hunt final berth

Published:Sunday | November 16, 2014 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Photo by Paul Clarke Reggae Boyz head coach Winfreid Schaefer (right) celebrates one of his team's goals against Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Friday night. Jamaica won 3-0.

WESTERN BUREAU:

A berth in Tuesday's Caribbean Football Union's Caribbean Cup final will be at stake when hosts Jamaica square off against Haiti in the final Group B preliminary round match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex today. Kick off time is set for 8 p.m.

Haiti enter today's match with a distinct advantage. They lead the group on goal difference and need only a draw to reach Tuesday's final. Both countries are on four points from a win one, draw one record and have an identical plus three goal difference. Haiti, however, have scored five goals and conceded two while the Reggae Boyz have a four for, one against record. The winners of both groups, A and B, will meet in the final.

Both teams enter today's game on a high after 3-0 wins last Friday night.

Jamaica, in what was their most impressive recent display, blanked Antigua and Barbuda 3-0. Kemar Lawrence (30th), Darren Mattocks (43rd) and captain Rodolph Austin (88th) got the goals as the Reggae Boyz controlled the tempo of the game against the pacy Antiguans.

The outstanding player was Jobi McAnuff who constantly troubled the Antigua and Barbuda team with his driving runs through midfield. He will again have to be at his best today to outmanoeuvre the Haitians.

Coach Winfried Sh‰efer was impressed with the hunger, drive and guts the Boyz showed on Friday night.

"All the players fight for this country; they give their all for the country and it's good to see that we needed to win and we got it," he said.

"But it gets tougher now. Haiti are a good team, strong players, and they know also how to win games, so we have to be at our top to beat them," added Sh‰efer.

It was clear from the Reggae Boyz's opening match that Sh‰efer was uncomfortable, but with a good win now under his belt, the coach appeared at ease, citing the Boyz's good performance.

"We have a job to do and we want another good win to get there. They (Haiti) have good players, so it will take a special performance from us to get the result we want," Sh‰efer said.

McAnuff has been one of the bright lights for the Jamaicans and has been praised by Sh‰efer for being the "eyes of the team".

VITAL PLAYERS

Winger Joel Grant, wily dribbler Dane Richards and forward Mattocks have also been vital to the Boyz's push for a place in the final match on Tuesday.

Kervens Belfort who got a double in Haiti's 3-0 win over Martinique will again be a key player. Belfort scored in the 53rd and 90th minutes in a match which Haiti were always the dominant team. Many observers here feel the Haitians are the best team on show in the tournament and the Reggae Boyz must lift their game considerably to get into Tuesday's final.

Belfort has three goals so far to his credit, while midfielder Dukens Nazon and defender Jean Sony Alcenat have been equally authoritative in their previous matches.

Antigua and Barbuda and Martinique will meet in the opening match of the double-header at 5:30 p.m. Both are on a point and a big win could see one of the two edging out either Jamaica or Haiti for a top four spot.