Reggae Boyz launch build-up with win
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Jamaica striker Luton Shelton (left) motors past Canada's captain Ante Jazic, during their friendly international football match at the National Stadium yesterday. Shelton scored as Jamaica won 1-0. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Jamaica's Reggae Boyz got their 2014 FIFA World Cup cycle off the ground with an encouraging 1-0 triumph over Canada in a friendly international at the National Stadium last night.
In what was the sixth meeting between the two teams since 2006, the Jamaicans, through a 68th minute Luton Shelton strike, also managed to avenge a similar defeat suffered last year at the Gold Cup.
Shelton collected a pass from strike partner Omar Cummings, who made a robust lateral run just outside the box, and swung his right foot violently into the ball which eluded Canadian goalkeeper David Monslave at his near post.
The match started with a nicely-paced balance with both teams exchanging jabs, particularly in the midfield area.
However, it was the hosts who first showed their intentions when midfield muscle Rudolph Austin motored down the left flank in the third minute to deliver a teasing cross inside the box. But striker Luton Shelton and Demar Phillips both failed to make contact.
The Canadians struggled to bother the eager Jamaicans, who despite lacking ideas at times, created numerous problems for the visitors.
Rivoli hit man Devon Hodges brought the crowd to its feet after he skilfully got rid of his marker in the penalty area. The masses were, however, left to rue his miserable effort that went sailing over the crossbar in the 17th minute.
Shelton should have scored in the 35th minute. After leaving three Canadian players for dead and finding only goalkeeper Monslave in his way, the pacey striker seemed to run out of ideas; shooting straight into the keeper's body.
Coach Theodore Whitmore said: "We lost against them in the Gold Cup but I think that my team gave an excellent performance based on our three weeks of preparation and I want to thank the fans who always rally behind us," Whitmore noted.
Captain Tyrone Marshall was happy with the result and hopeful for the future.
"I think we were a little nervous in the first half after playing in front of the home crowd for the first time in a long while, but we got better as the game went along," said Marshall. "It's a good start and the young guys that came in showed some promise and the right attitude so it's a bright future and we are looking forward to 2014."
Canada's coach, Stephen Hart, said: "I think it was a good match. We had a few breakdowns defensively, plus Jamaica came at us for the full 90 (minutes). We defended well generally ... it was a good game," Hart stated.
Jamaica Football Federation president Captain Horace Burrell took the opportunity to thank the public for their support of the programme.
"Thanks to the thousands of Jamaicans who turned out and supported the commencement of the 2014 campaign," said Burrell.
Daniel Clarke and Anthony Williams seem to be well entertained while at the Jamaica vs Canada match at the National Stadium yesterday. Jamaica won the game 1-0 thanks to a 68th-minute strike from Valerenga forward Luton Shelton. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer