Reggae Boyz required to find rhythm - Must win match against mighty Mexico
Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd, The Voice Writer
Jamaica will tackle Mexico on Thursday in what is a must-win Copa America contest, but the Reggae Boyz have yet to score a goal in the competition.
The Boyz, who suffered their four successive 1-0 Copa America defeat to minnows Venezuela on Sunday, face an uphill task in turning over Mexico.
The Mexicans grabbed a late brace to see off the challenge of Uruguay 3-1 in a controversial tie on Sunday, and top the four-team group.
But the Boyz, who slipped to 1-0 defeats in last year's Copa America, repeated their failure in front of goal to kick-off this tournament.
And head coach Winfried Schäfer has seen two key players eliminated from the Mexico tie. Veteran midfielder Rodolph Austin was harshly sent off against Uruguay and defender Kemar Lawrence re-aggravated his groin injury in the match - the New York Red Bull left wing-back has been ruled out of the rest of the competition.
Jamaica's livewire striker Giles Barnes said: "We gave blood, sweat and tears against Venezuela, but unfortunately we didn't hit the back of the net."
Although the Boyz came perilously close to finally nabbing a goal in the coveted competition, twice denied by the woodwork on Sunday, it is their lack of scoring that has proved their downfall over the years.
Wily German Schäfer may have shored up his defence, superbly marshalled by Wes Morgan, and got his midfielders to press forward on counterattacks it is the frontline that is lacking cohesion.
Darren Mattocks' omission was a surprise as he had looked dangerous in previous internationals and linked up well with intelligent play with Barnes. But upfront are a handful of untested players.
The Boyz will be aiming to seek revenge for their humiliating 2015 Gold Cup final defeat to Mexico, their lethargic display down to sheer exhaustion after making their Copa America debut just before their tremendous – and unexpected run – in the Gold Cup.
However, Mexico are the world's most in-form team and riding on the crest of a wave with an unbeaten run of 20 games.
It is going to take something special for Jamaica to turn over Mexico at Pasadena’s Rose Bowl Stadium, but the Boyz have the belief and come 9 p.m. (Jamaican time) on Thursday is when the Boyz will become men to commence battle.
Expected Jamaica line-up:
Blake; Taylor, Hector, Morgan, Mariappa; Watson, McAnuff, McCleary; Grant, Donaldson, Barnes.
Remaining Copa America matches for Jamaica:
* June 9 – Mexico (Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena) and
* June 13 – Uruguay (Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara).