Jamiel Hardware impresses as Boyz lose to Saudi Arabia
They might have enjoyed a few bright moments, but Jamaica's Reggae Boyz suffered a heavy 5-2 loss to Saudi Arabia in yesterday's friendly in Jeddah, with Jamiel Hardware and Marvin Morgan getting the goals for the Jamaicans.
The hosts started confidently and were rewarded for their efforts in the 23rd minute when Salem Al-Dawsari got them ahead in front of a relatively small crowd at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium.
Boys' Town attacker Hardware finished impressively to gain parity for the Jamaicans, touching a deep cross from the right flank around his marker before caressing the ball into the far corner from the left side of the penalty area to suggest that the contest would be a competitive one.
The Jamaicans were probably still celebrating three minutes later when Mohammed Al-Sahlawi put the Saudis back in front with a free header from a cross arriving from his team's right flank, with Jamaican defender Damion Lowe taking some blame for backing off the striker and allowing him the room for his uncontested effort.
Things began to slip away for the Boyz just before the half-time break when Al-Sahlawi was brought down in the box by Jermaine Taylor. Dwayne Miller went the right way but still couldn't get a hand on Salman Al-Faraj's fierce penalty kick, which went under him to give the Saudis a 3-1 lead.
The hosts scored their next goal three minutes after the break when Miller misread a right-sided cross and collided with Lowe, leaving Mohammed Al Burayk to fire into an empty net.
Hardware, who was the best player for Jamaica on the night, provided a nice offensive outlet for the Jamaicans, twice creating problems for the Saudis with his close dribbling. The first slalom led to a corner kick after a deflected shot, with teammate Ewan Grandison strangely rushing in and taking the ball off his feet and in the process turning over possession on his next run at the Saudi Arabia defence.
Still, it was the beginning of a strong spell by the Jamaicans, who, for a change, started to show crisp touches and eager movement, with the hosts constantly finding themselves on the back foot.
Substitute Marvin Morgan, less than a minute after being introduced, received the ball about 20 yards out, dragged it to his left and flicked a shot towards goal, with a deflection off a Saudi defender leaving the goalkeeper flat-footed as the ball fell just under the crossbar and into the net.
The Jamaicans continued to push for another goal but could not make their positive play count, and it was the host, who would get on the score sheet next.
Mohamed Kanno received a neat through ball down the Saudi right-hand side before using his trickery to leave Taylor on the ground and cut the ball back to Abdulmajeed Al-Ruwaili, who finished beyond an onrushing Miller to extend the lead.
This was the second straight loss for the Reggae Boyz and the third in their last four games.