Mariappa stands up for Kerr
IN SPORTS, there are some days when despite your best efforts, you are going to mess up somewhere along the way.
It's on days like those that you need someone in your corner.
For Jamaican goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr, whose blunder led to a goal and 1-0 loss against Paraguay in the Copa America Group B football match on Tuesday evening, Adrian Mariappa was that man.
Edgar Benitez capitalised on the mistake to score for Paraguay at the 36th minute.
The play started from Paraguayan midfielder Victor Caceres. From midway his half, he overhit a long pass forward. Kerr raced from his goal area and met the ball nearly 10 yards outside his box with a header directed straight at the forward.
Benitez reacted quickly by lifting his leg, redirecting the ball over Kerr and beating the despairing chase of Kemar Lawrence into the empty goal.
The 28-year-old Mariappa, now a senior among the Reggae Boyz, stood up for his teammate, who has had a fantastic tournament otherwise, making key saves and establishing a commanding presence over his penalty box, even in the same match where the South Americans established a stranglehold early and raked several good attempts at goal, that were saved by Kerr.
"It is one of those things," said Mariappa. "He's been brilliant for us and he's so assured and is such a reassuring person to have behind you and his decision-making is 99.9 per cent - usually spot on.
"He's never hesitant. He made his decision. I saw what he was trying to do; he was trying to nod it in to Rudi (Rodolph Austin)," Mariappa explained of the miscalculated play.
"He could have gone anywhere; it was just one of those things and we will never point a finger, especially at someone like him who has done so much for the team," he added.
The loss was the second for the Jamaicans, who went shoulder to shoulder and created enough chances to have beaten Uruguay in their first match.
Disappointed in game
For the Paraguay game, though, Mariappa said the team was unhappy with its performance, as they dropped a notch and credited the South Americans for their planning.
"Especially after the performance of the first game, we are disappointed with the way we played today. We know we can play a lot better," he said.
"They had a good game plan against us. They didn't allow us to play, especially in the first half, they closed us down very quickly, so they made it very hard for us and we kind of played into their hands a little bit.
"I think the last 15 minutes we put a bit of pressure on them. It was always going to be a tough game, but coming out of it we are disappointed with the way we played."
The loss left Jamaica without a point and in a must-win game against Argentina on Saturday to have any chance of advancing - as one of the two best third-placed teams - to the second round.
"It will be another great game for us to test ourselves and it will probably be the biggest test of this group," the Crystal Palace defender noted of the team loaded with some of the world's biggest stars in Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano, Manchester City's Sergio Aguero, Juventus' Carlos Tevez, Manchester United's Angel di Maria and Paris St Germain's Ezequiel Lavezzi.
"Obviously they have got some real world-class players in this team, so now it is to put our focus towards that and try and go out there and get a good result," implored Mariappa.