Mariappa predicts good Gold Cup for Boyz
VINA DEL MAR, Chile:
THEY were not actually in the middle of the ocean on a ship.
However, the way Argentina went at Jamaica in the first half of their Copa America football match at Sausalito Stadium on Saturday, it often shifted the defence out and about as if they were at sea.
"It was difficult. I've played games like that throughout my career, with my club team maybe every week. You've to weather the storm sometimes," said Reggae Boyz right fullback, Adrian Mariappa, who represents mid-table English Premier League club, Crystal Palace.
"We're playing against some of the best players and the best player in the world, so we knew it was going to be tough," he added of the world number-three team with Lionel Messi, the game's best player, plus his big-name teammates, who all play for the top clubs in Europe.
Gonzalo Higuain, who plays for Italy's Napoli, scored the winner at the 11th minute of a first half in which Argentina put Jamaica under tremendous pressure.
Higuain would hit the bar again before half time, and afterwards, his Manchester United teammate, Angel di Maria, hit another shot against the Jamaican goalpost.
The Reggae Boyz, ranked 65th by FIFA, lifted their play in the second half and dominated for the last 20 minutes. Mariappa praised their effort.
"I thought the lads were terrific. We had a good shape," he added.
"In the first half, we weren't picking the right pass, but second half on the counterattack, we started creating chances, and that's what we can do as a team. I'm confident we can play against anyone.
"There's so much pace in the team. I thought we put them under a lot of pressure as well. We had some opportunities, and on another day, we might have scored a goal ... we've come away pretty well," Mariappa said.
Jamaica, which also lost 1-0 to world number eight and defending Copa champions, Uruguay and Paraguay, the quadrennial tournament's runners-up in 2011, will begin its confederation championship on July 8 against Costa Rica in Los Angeles.
"We used these games as a building block and then we'll try to go forward from there. Gold Cup I definitely think we should progress from our group," Mariappa surmised. "I think in that competition we can get to the later rounds if we definitely play like today."
Jamaica will also play Canada (July 11, Houston, Texas) and El Salvador (July 14, BMO Field, Toronto) in Group B Gold Cup preliminary action.