The Reggae Boyz had a pretty busy year in 2011, from the U17′s, the U20′s, U23′s to the senior men's team. There were mixed results but there is hope for the future as the performances showed critical promise.
The U17′s kicked-off by playing some practice matches against Canada, USA, Haiti and Costa Rica. The U17′s had just returned from a 6 week camp in Brazil where they proved to be assiduous. The pressure was on them as Jamaica was host of the U-17 world cup qualifiers and expectations grew as everyone wanted Jamaica to reach the U17 World Cup. They Beat Canada 1-0 and lost 4-2. They Beat Haiti 3-2. They drew with the USA 0-0 and lost 2-1. And in their penultimate game they lost to Costa Rica 1-0. The lack of wins was a concern for the public but Wendell Downswell made it known that the team would gel when qualifiers started.
The final round of the CONCACAF U17 World Cup qualifiers took place in Jamaica at 2 venues, the Catherine Hall Sports Complex and the Jarret Park Sports Stadium. Jamaica played all their games at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex. Jamaica had a relatively simple group with Guatemala and Trinidad and Tobago. The Boyz drew with their Caribbean rivals in the 1st game 2-2 and won a must win game against Guatemala 1-0. Trinidad beat Guatemala by the same scoreline, so Jamaica and Trinidad were tied on points and goal difference. There had to be a draw of lots and Jamaica won the group and faced Honduras in the key quarter final game. It was straightforward, beat Honduras and get to the U17 World Cup. Jason Wright scored within 12 minutes of the game. Jevani Brown and captain Omar Holness could have increased the lead later on, but early in the second half Jason Wright gave Jamaica an insurance goal. Late in the 2nd half Honduras pulled back a goal and there were some nervous faces around the stadium. But some clean and composed defending from Alvas Powell led Jamaica to the U17 World Cup. In the semi-final Jamaica played the USA but the USA proved to be no walkover as their possession was the key to their 2-0 victory. In the 3rd place match we played Panama and Panama edged us 1-0. Despite finishing 4th, we qualified for the U17 World Cup. Mission Accomplished here.
The Senior Reggae Boyz opened their year against Venezuela at the Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay. Jamaica lost 2-0 due to careless defending. It was the first time the Boyz had lost at home since June 2007. But our record at the Office is still intact. 4 days later we faced El Salvador and beat them 3-2. This was our 3rd victory ever on Central American soil. The goals came from Omar Cummings and a double from Dane Richards.
In the same Month the U20′s kicked off their qualification but it was a disappointment. We lost 2-0 and 2-1 to Guatemala and Honduras respectfully. Neco Brett scored the lone goal for Jamaica. And it was by far the goal of the tournament.
APRIL & MAY
April and May was pendantic for Jamaica as Wendell Downswell was busy picking his squad for the U17 World Cup and Whitmore was pickingthe senior squad for the 2011 CONCACAF GOLD CUP. Jamaica was drawn in Group B in the U17 World Cup with Argentina, Japan and France. Many persons said we would be the beating stick team of the tournament. Captain Omar Holness said we should not worry as the team would represent the country proud and prove to be meaningful competitors. In the Gold Cup, Jamaica was drawn in Group B alongside Grenada. Guatemala and Honduras. Coaches Montesso and Whitmore arranged a 2 week Camp in Brazil to prepare the senior players for the Gold Cup
June was a busy month indeed. At the Gold Cup, Jamaica started with an expeditious 4-0 win over Grenada. The fluidity in play was breathtaking from this Jamaican team. Jamaica followed it up with a 2-0 win over Guatemala. Unfortunately Dicoy Williams teared his muscle in this game and was expected to be out for 4-6 months. In the final game vs Honduras, Jamaica rested 6 players and played new players and some played in new positions. Jason Morrison played sweeper for the first time in his career. And he did a solid job in that department. The versatility was phenomenal and we won 1-0 thanks to a lovely strike from Ryan Johnson. In the Quarter-finals we played our bitter-rivals the USA. Our formation and zonal marking was the difference between a spot in the semis and going home. We lost 2-0. Honorable mention must go to Donovan Ricketts who made 6 key saves and Ryan Johnson who spurred his team on despite being a man down.Despite not reaching our target, which was to be the semi-finals, the Boyz left the tournament with their head held high and promise to get Jamaica to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014.
The U17′s kicked off their world cup with a 1-0 loss to Japan. Playing deep and not attacking in numbers played a role in the loss. The next encounter Jamaica played freer with enthusiasm and excitement. Having Alvas Powell in the midfield payed huge dividends to the chances Jamaica created. Unfortunately that left a gap and we lost 2-1. Zhelano Barnes from Excelsior got Jamaica’s 1st goal at the U17 World Cup.
In the Final encounter vs the French, it was do or die. Win or go home simple as that. Andre Lewis got things excited as he scored a goal from a long throw in from Captain Omar Holness. Lewis became the 1st Jamaican born player to score against a European opposition in a FIFA tournament. Richard Trench had a competent game making 4 brilliant saves. But pressure burst the pipe and Yassin Benzia scored for the French and the game ended 1-1. Jamaica left the tournament with a point and a bright future ahead of them. The Under 20 Qualifiers for 2012 looks good.
In July the JFF arranged 3 games for the Boyz one against China in China and another against Ecuador in Ecuador. Also Colombia in Florida. With a far from strong team Jamaica lost all 3 games 1-0, 5-2 and 2-0 respectfully.
THE JFF arranged a game against Honduras in Honduras in October. There was 3 new faces in the team. Central Midfielder Marvin Elliot, Left Back Nathan Smith and Central Midfielder Marcus Bean. Jamaica lost the game 2-1. Their was a huge gap in the defense, this is what led to the defeat.
All in all it was a good year for the Boyz.
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