November 9, 2012
Boyz fly high - Jamaica and Cuba Under-20s seal passage to CONCACAF final round
Junior Reggae Boy Paul Wilson attempts to fend off the challenges of three Surinamese players; Altman Juliano Mukitsji (left), Raynel Gambier and Bruce Julianto Diporedjo (right) during their Group B Caribbean Football Union men's final yesterday at Stadium East. Jamaica won 3-0. - Ricardo Makyn
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Jamaica and Cuba booked their places in the 12-team Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 Championships after registering victories over Suriname and Antigua and Barbuda, respectively, yesterday, in Group B Caribbean Football Union Finals action at Stadium East.
Jamaica defeated Suriname 3-0 courtesy of goals from Sean McFarlane (45), Zhelano Barnes (66) and Kereen Manning (90+4).
In the opening game of the double-header, Cuba left it late, as it took 80th and 90+3 minutes goals from Andy Vaquero Ruiz and Yordan Santa Cruz Vera, respectively, to see off the challenge of Antigua and Barbuda.
With the top two teams from the group guaranteed progression, Jamaica and Cuba have an unassailable six points from two games. Jamaica, however, boast a better goal difference. The teams will jostle for group honours when they clash in the final match of the tournament tomorrow at the same venue.
Suriname and Antigua and Barbuda will meet in the curtain raiser, as they go in search of their first point.
"The first target has been achieved, now we are going to go for the game against Cuba," Jamaica's coach Luciano Gama said.
"We are going to go into the game against Cuba a little bit more relaxed and going for the first place; that is important," he added.
The junior Reggae Boyz first-half performance was flat, as they made a number of unforced efforts and only managed four shots, with only two being on target. The first effort on goal came in the 2nd minute when Andre Lewis stung Suriname's goalkeeper Delano Hedwig Stella's gloves with a near post drive.
The modest gathering had to wait until the 45th minute to witness another shot on target when right back McFarlane, who attends St Leo University in the United States, fired a shot from 25 yards out, which beat the diving Stella in goal.
The second half proved to be a much more open and attractive contest, as both teams went in search of goals. Romario Jones came close to doubling the Boyz lead in the 55th minute when his effort from the top of the area cannoned back off the right post.
Jamaica finally got a deserved second in the 66th minute when under-17 World Cup goalscorer Zhelano Barnes hooked home from inside the box, after Suriname failed to clear a left-sided cross by Jones.
The goal seemed to spur Suriname into life, as they started to string some passes together, as their players displayed some eye-catching skills. They, however, failed to carve out a clear opening.
It was the junior Reggae Boyz that would add to their tally in the final minute of stoppage time when Manning headed in from close range.
"It is clear that Jamaica is playing on a higher level," Suriname's coach Imro Sleur said.
"We did our best and we have all the respect for the players of Jamaica; our guys are not on that level yet."