Late goal sinks Reggae Boyz
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida:
The Reggae Boyz lost 2-1 to Peru in their friendly international at the Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, yesterday.
Substitute Jose Carlos Fernandez scored a cheeky flick late on to settle the affair, after the Peruvians had taken the lead through an own-goal from midfielder Demar Phillips in the third minute and Omar Cummings equalised with a stunning long-range strike.
In front of a fairly large crowd of mainly Peruvian supporters (5,217) and in a persistent drizzle, the Jamaicans settled quickly and immediately looked to prise open their opponents with a series of fluent passes, which zipped from side to side on the artificial turf.
However, they were immediately put on the back foot as Peru scored with their very first attack of the game, as the unfortunate Phillips mistimed an attempted clearance from a Juan Manuel Vargas cross, to head past his stranded goalie, Dwayne Miller, with only three minutes gone.
To their credit, the Reggae Boyz, who looked a well-organised unit, held their nerves and continued to stalk the Peruvians with patient passing, but struggled to create legitimate goalscoring opportunities, while 39th-ranked Peru doggedly stuck to their defensive task in the final third.
The Jamaicans, who had the better of the possession, were rewarded for their patience and industry when in-form striker, Omar Cummings, beat Peru goalkeeper Salomon Libman all ends up with a fierce strike from near 25 yards out.
Aggressive second half
Cummings was the beneficiary of the hard work of Jason Morrison, who forced Peru to cough up the ball in the middle of the park, before playing a pass into the path of the forward just outside the 18-yard area.
Despite patient play from both teams, limited goalscoring opportunities were few and far between in the first half.
Peru, however, began the second half with more aggression than they displayed in the first half as they abandoned a cautious approach and looked to restore their lead.
Spurred on by a probing Jefferson Farfan, who often drifted from the left channel to the centre of the pitch in an attempt to shake the attention of his Jamaican markers, the South Americans began to dominate the game.
Farfan almost turned provider in the 56th minute after sliding a through ball to striker Vargas, but danger was cut out by the quick thinking of defender Eric Vernan, who intercepted to boot the ball to safety.
Vargas went inches wide of the target only a few minutes later, dragging his shot to the left of Miller after collecting a pass from Jesus Rabanal.
Rabanal was again provider in the 60th minute, this time with a pinpoint cross to Hernan Rencifo, who headed just over the bar.
The Boyz continued to weather the storm as they struggled to exert as much influence as they had in the first period. Only decisive goalkeeping from Miller kept Farfan off the scoresheet, as he headed just wide from a 64th-minute set piece.
However, three 65th-minute substitutions from coach Theodore Whitmore, who introduced Omar Daley for Jason Morrison in the centre of the park, replaced Luton Shelton with Dane Ricards and brought on Ryan Johnson for Nicholas Adderly up front, almost paid immediate dividends but Richards put his 68th-minute shot over the bar after being played through by Cummings.
Peru, who looked dangerous in possession with Farfan continuing to pull the strings, struck a telling blow in the 84th minute as with literally his first touch - seconds after coming on to the pitch - Fernandez side-booted a decisive pass from Vargas wide of Miller and into the left hand corner of the net to give Peru the 2-1 lead.
Jamaica had previously recorded wins over Trinidad and Tobago and Costa Rica over the last two months.