Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Shabby play at ‘ends’ cost Boyz

Published:Thursday | September 8, 2016 | 9:00 AMAudley Boyd
Jamaica's Cory Burke and Haiti's Jerome Mechack back out of a collision after challenging for the ball, while Jamaica's Jobi McAnuff (right) and Haiti's Arcus Carlens look on during the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying football match at the National Stadium on Tuesday. Haiti won 2-0.

If you don't score and fail to defend, well, chances are you're always going to lose.

The Reggae Boyz were left to bemoan those deficiencies on Tuesday night when they suffered a 0-2 loss to Haiti in their bottom-of-the-table Group B CONCACAF semi-final round World Cup-qualifying football match at the National Stadium.

Kevin LaFrance (68th) and Duckens Nazon (88th) scored breakaway goals in the second half to hand their team the victory.

"On both ends, in terms of how we defended, we made two mistakes in defence; and in terms of how we attack, we missed too many chances. We have to look at the ends of the field," assessed Miguel Coley, assistant coach of Jamaica's senior men's football team.

Coley was actually directing the charges from the sidelines, as head coach Winfried Sch‰fer has been relieved of duties with immediate effect by the Jamaica Football Federation, for interfering with a media worker as he carried out his duties.

The media worker, it is alleged, was shooting an interview with Reggae Boyz manager, Roy Simpson, being interviewed upon return from the team's 0-2 loss against Panama, when Sch‰fer, who had declined an interview prior, alighted from the team bus and pulled the plug on his equipment.

In Tuesday night's game of academic interest - with both countries already eliminated from the World Cup race - it was the Reggae Boyz strikers and defenders who pulled the plug on their own performance. They got some very good chances to score and gave up just as many in a see-saw encounter between teams whose only victory in six outings came against each other. They each lost four matches.

FINISHING CHANCES

"In terms of how we played, the tactics were very good. We created a lot of chances, but we have to finish those chances; and then in the last half when you had four players backing off, the goal came at that time, when you have players backing off. We have to know that we have to shut down players and can't allow them inside of the 18 and give them a free shot at the goalkeeper," Coley analysed.

"But in terms of spirit, especially about 60 minutes of the game, it was good. We could see exactly what the team wanted to do in terms of getting the cross in the box as we really opened them up a lot."

Unfamiliar starting forwards Cory Burke and Dever Orgill got some easy goals in both halves, with unchallenged finishes from inside the area that really should have counted.

Midfielder Jobi McAnuff had a goalmouth effort spectacularly saved by goalkeeper Jhony Placide and Rodolph Austin bombed a 25-yard free-kick against the crossbar in the second half when the game was goalless.

Haiti's Sebastien Thuriere, from open play, had a carbon copy of that kick from outside the box, but was also denied by the crossbar.

At the end of a game watched by several hundreds of spectators, the visitors were the only ones with scoresheet tabulations, and Coley was a little stretched to explain the result, given their creations.

"I can't say this or that, but there are a lot of factors that could have contributed to the performance. But we had gotten over eight chances in the game, if we had scored, then nobody would have said the body language of the players or anything like that, so we have to really accept the fact that we lost," he said.

Jamaica thus ended the campaign in the four-team semi-final-round bottom of Group B on four points, the same as Haiti, whose minus-two goal difference is better than the Boyz' minus-eight. Costa Rica topped the group with 16 points, while Panama finished second on 10.

The top two advanced to the CONCACAF Finals, also known as the Hexagonal, a six-team round robin play-off of home and away matches. Group A's Mexico and Honduras, plus Group C's United States and Trinidad and Tobago, also qualified.

The top three will advance to the Russia 2018 World Cup, while the fourth team will play off against the Oceania champions for a chance to play in the global tournament Finals.