Friday, February 8, 2013

Brave Reggae Boyz shine at the Azteca!

From Jamaica Observer 
MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Jamaica's record at football in Mexico is appalling, to say the very least.
And heading into Wednesday's CONCACAF Final Round World Cup opener here at the much-feared Estadio Azteca, not many gave them a ghost of a chance of earning anything but a battering.

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — Reggae Boy Demar Phillips (centre) attempts to get by Mexico’s Javier Rodriquez (left), while teammate Giovani Dos Santos keeps a close eye on the proceedings during their CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match at the Azteca Stadium here on Wednesday night. The match ended 0-0. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)
However, after the gallant and disciplined Reggae Boyz forced the Mexican supporters into a standing ovation at game's end, in addition to raining 'boos' on their players after a 0-0 stalemate, assistant head coach Alfredo Montesso has declared that the technical staff is anything but surprised by the team's performance.
"For us it was not a surprise," Montesso told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the team's return to its Radisson Paraiso Hotel after the game.
"... not with the performance, and not the commitment because we could see the vibes in training and at the hotel, and right after the game tonight (Wednesday) we told them that we need to keep our feet on the ground, we need to understand that we are just at the beginning, and we have to improve our performance because there were circumstances in the game that we never handled so well, but it is coming with time."
The Brazilian noted that though the Boyz earned a valuable point to be in joint second place with Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica, who played out a 2-2 result, and two points adrift of early leaders Honduras, who clipped the USA 2-1, the result could have even been better, as crazy as that sounds.
"It happened this way, but it could have been better. It could have been excellent if we capitalised on the chances that we had, but anyway what I saw was a committed team," noted Montesso.

From the Gleaner
Outstanding goal-keeping from Donovan Ricketts and robust defending helped Jamaica to neutralise Mexico's raids and forced a 0-0 draw in their opening game Wednesday night in final round of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Jamaica's Marvin Elliott (left) embraces Jermaine Taylor at the end of a 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Mexico in Mexico City on Wednesday night. The match ended 0-0. - AP
Jamaica's Marvin Elliott (left) embraces Jermaine Taylor at the end of a 2014 World Cup qualifying match against Mexico in Mexico City on Wednesday night. The match ended 0-0. - AP
The improving Reggae Boyz, dominated by foreign-based players, frustrated the Mexicans who failed to produce enough quality opportunities to beat an unexpectedly impressive Jamaican defence at the Azteca Stadium.
The drawn game was one of Jamaica's most impressive results in their footballing history on the strength of Ricketts' performance and a well-implemented game plan that kept El Tri largely at bay.
The Caribbean powerhouse squandered an early golden opportunity in the eighth minute.
Garath McCleary delivered a cross from the right that his Reading teammate Jobi McAnuff turned into a header that hit the post and rebounded neatly back to his feet.
However, the midfielder failed to exploit a clear cut chance by taking a shot that Mexico goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona raced back across the goalmouth to save.
Just before the half-hour mark, Jamaica's Rodolph Austin intercepted a poor throw-in and sprinted into the left side of the Mexican box.
The Leeds United midfielder took a left-footed shot that Corona tipped over the crossbar for a corner kick.
The Reggae Boyz spent much of the first half successfully repelling the CONCACAF champions as they relentlessly attacked.
Jamaica created a number of opportunities on counter-attacks, but the thin air at Estadio Azteca clearly affected them and restricted speedy onslaughts.
The second half featured more frustration for the Mexicans who struggled consistently to outpace Jamaica's stout defence.
The visitors pressed for an opener with McAnuff who was involved in many of the advances but failing to compensate for his mistake of not converting an early opportunity.
Jamaica could have won the game in the 68th minute off a miscue from Andres Guardado.
Ryan Johnson gained possession of the ball in the middle of the field and easily beat defender Carlos Salcido, before his weak shot rolled harmlessly into the waiting hands of Corona.
Incredible Performance from Donovan Ricketts
Jamaican custodian Ricketts was the most impressive player on the pitch with an incredible performance that deprived the Mexicans from seizing the advantage.
The Portland Timbers keeper flew around the goal line and came up with several spectacular saves, including his highlight of the night, keeping a point-blank shot from Javier Hernandez Balcazar out of the net.

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