Skipper Austin hails Boyz's strength in defence
DEFENDING in football, they say, wins championships. Jamaica's Reggae Boyz are still on course in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and their captain and central midfielder, Rodolph Austin, is praising the team's efforts at not conceding, as they beat El Salvador 1-0 at BMO Field in Toronto on Tuesday to seal the top spot with seven points.
The Central Americans came into the contest needing to win to advance past the group stage, as they were tied second with Costa Rica on two points. They pressed Jamaica hard and the defence had to work overtime.
"It was a hard-fought game. I think we showed our strength in defence. We did well," said Austin.
In three first-round matches, the Jamaicans have only conceded goals in one game, a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica, in which the opponents scored twice within four minutes to take the lead. Jamaica rallied then on a magnificent solo goal by Jobi McAnuff to tie that encounter.
McAnuff was also involved in the goal against El Salvador that was scored by Garath McCleary at the 72nd minute. His shot at goal was palmed into the path of McClearly by diving custodian Derby Carillo.
"We got our chance and we put it away and that shows good team spirit and the will to keep a clean sheet," noted Austin.
Analysts in these parts never gave Jamaica a chance to advance past the group stage, predicting the Caribbean champions would only end with two points.
"That's a typical thing what people think of Jamaica and Jamaicans and it's good when we can prove them wrong," Austin countered. "That shows good spirit and we believe in ourselves. The people who were talking - we've shut their mouths. We just have to continue and do our best and know that our strength lies within the team and in each other."
The Reggae Boyz were forced into two early substitutions owing to injuries to central defender Jermaine Taylor (seventh minute) and goalkeeper Dwayne Miller (22nd). Ryan Thompson and Michael Hector were their replacements.
Additionally, Mattocks was ejected for a second booking at the 80th minute and a couple players, a questionable decision like another booking issued to midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and several other calls.
"The other guys who came on, they did well. Everyone is waiting for their chance and everyone rose to the occasion. I think we had some crazy decisions against us today; it just sums up the game. But in the end, we won and that's the most important thing," Austin assessed.
"I think the players knew from the moment we lost the first two players that we had a tough game on our hands. We rose to the occasion and everyone ran for each other, tackle, did the dirty stuff and in the end we scored a goal and won the game."
Jamaica will face Haiti in a quarter-final match on Saturday in Baltimore.
Costa Rica claimed second position after a goalless tie in a dogfight with Canada in the night's second game at BMO. The draw put Costa Rica on three points, while Canada ended on two points.