Jamaica's chances shrink
JAMAICA'S chances of advancing past the group stage of the CFU Caribbean Cup got slimmer following a goalless draw against Martinique in their Group B encounter at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium last night.
The draw put Martinique at the top of the group on four points and, conversely, left the Reggae Boyz stuck at the bottom with one point. Cuba, which beat French Guiana 2-1 in last night's opening fixture, are tied for second on three points, with the team they beat. All the teams have played two matches and complete their preliminary fixtures tomorrow.
Only the top two teams will advance, and Jamaica could still claim a spot with a win over Cuba, as this would advance their tally to four points. In that scenario, only one of the teams involved in the other matchup - Martinique and French Guiana - could end with more points. So goal difference could become a factor.
Jamaica, the defending champions, played the last third of last night's match with 10 after left-sided Demar Phillips picked up a second bookable offence in the 62nd minute, for an automatic ejection.
The team adjusted by substituting sweeper Shavar Thomas with the recalled Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner.
However, the Jamaicans found it difficult creating scoring chances against a battling Martinique team that stacked players behind the ball, but showed serious counterattacking intent.
Earning a spot among the final four is not only significant to Jamaica retaining their title, but also towards claiming a spot for the CONCACAF Gold Cup - which is guaranteed for only the semi-final qualifiers.
Meanwhile, in Group A action, Antigua and Barbuda clawed their way back into contention on Sunday night with a shock defeat of Trinidad and Tobago that put the former champions on the brink of elimination.
Following an agonising defeat in Friday's opening Group A fixtures, Antigua regained their composure to blank T&T 2-0 through second-half goals from Quinton Griffith and Peter Byers at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
Haiti also rebounded following their opening draw to overcome the Dominican Republic 2-1 and opening up a tense race in Group A for the top two spots.
The French side are now top of the group on four points, with Antigua and the Dominican Republic on three points. T&T, who were held to a goalless draw in their opening fixture, are bottom of the standings on a single point.