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Do or die showdown - Jamaica take on Suriname at National Stadium

Published:Saturday | November 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
The Reggae Boyz engaging in a training session at the Stadium East field last Tuesday.
Owayne Gordon
Coach Theodore Whitmore

The last time Jamaica met Suriname in a Caribbean Cup football encounter, 20 years ago in Trinidad and Tobago, the South Americans surprised their Jamaican 3-1.

Now, the present group of Reggae Boyz have an opportunity to avenge that defeat when they face Suriname in their must-win Caribbean Cup qualifier this evening at the National Stadium starting at 6 o'clock.

A win for either team will earn each a place in the 2017 Caribbean Cup semi-finals next June, as well as a spot in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Both teams beat eliminated Guyana, the other team in Group 1.

Jamaica, the defending champions, will be missing captain Je-vaughn Watson and full-back Kemar Lawrence through injury, but although Coach Theodore Whitmore expects a very difficult match, he is just as optimistic that they will get the better of their opponents and move on to the regional football finals and secure their place in the CONCACAF showpiece, the Gold Cup.

"We know Suriname are a very hard-running team, and when any of these Caribbean teams play against Jamaica, they are always up for it. We know the situation and we know it's going to be tough, but we are looking forward to a good game, a good result and a positive performance," he told the Sunday Gleaner.

"We are the champions of the Caribbean and we are looking forward to being a part of the Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup as well, so we have to do what we have to do ... and we don't want to leave anything to chance," Whitmore, who was a member of the team that lost to Suriname in 1996, added.

Although the team will miss the experience of Watson in midfield and Lawrence's quality at left-back, Whitmore thinks this group is more than capable of making up for their absence.

"With the absence of these players, we are a bit unbalanced, but it's workable and we are looking for a positive result. It's going to be tough, but we will maintain a level head and look for a positive result. It's the same players from the Guyana game and they are hungry, motivated and focused, so we will be giving a 110 percent performance," he said. Key players for Jamaica will be forward Owayne Gordon, defenders Dicoy Williams, Shaun Francis and Alvas Powell goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake and forward Dino Williams.

Suriname's coach, Roberto Godeken, will be relying on some key players to give him victory against the Reggae Boyz. Midfielders Roxey Fer and Mitchell Kisoor are expected to provide much of the danger upfront for the visitors, and along with strikers Dimitrie Apai and Stefano Rijssel.

Jamaica defeated Guyana 4-2 in extra-time in their Group I match, while Suriname stopped the said opponent 3-2 for both teams to come into today's game on three points. If the game is tied at the end of 90 minutes, extra-time will be required. If the extra period fails to separate the teams, penalties will be used to decide the winner.