'We need to win'
Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's Under-20 football team will be chasing victory against Central American opponents Panama in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in order to maintain a slim hope of qualifying for an automatic spot to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup this year in New Zealand.
The Young Reggae Boyz tackle Group A leaders Panama in the feature of a triple-header at the National Stadium tomorrow, starting at 8 p.m.
Following a 1-0 loss to Guatemala on Sunday night at the National Stadium, the Jamaicans, who are struggling in the tournament, need to start winning.
Panama, who edged the United States of America (USA) 1-0 in the second game two days ago, are currently in pole position on maximum six points, ahead of Trinidad and Tobago (4), Guatemala (4), Jamaica (1), USA (1), and Aruba, sitting at the bottom, without a point.
With the top team from each group advancing to the World Cup and the second and third teams in the groups battling for the other two spots, Jamaica are in danger of not making it through.
Jamaica's assistant coach, Lenworth Hyde Sr, said his team is in a must-win situation.
"We need to win our next game," Hyde told reporters during a press conference following his team's 1-0 loss to Guatemala.
Guatemala's goal was scored by Stheven Robles-Ruiz in the 27th minute.
Jamaica's goalkeeper, Nicholas Nelson, kept his team in the contest with several outstanding saves, including a penalty in the second half.
The Guatemalans were strong defensively and kept Jamaica away from goal. However, after three changes to the starting team in the second half, Jamaica looked better in attack.
"We played more fluid. We have a problem as most of the play started in the second half," he said. "We have to wheel and come again in the rest of the games," Hyde added.
"It's not yet over. We told the players to keep the focus going as it is not over yet," he said.
2-2 draw against Trinidad & tobago
Jamaica came back to draw 2-2 in the opening game against Trinidad and Tobago last Friday night to earn their only point so far.
"We need to start the next game better than we did in the first two games. We know what we have, we know the players, but we have to have players coming off the bench who can inject energy into the team," Hyde said with regard to the starting team.
The CONCACAF Under-20 tournament takes a break today and will continue tomorrow with a triple-header in Group A.
3 p.m. - Guatemala vs Trinidad and Tobago
5:30 p.m. - Aruba vs USA
8 p.m. - Jamaica vs Panama
(All games will be played at the National Stadium.)