Young Reggae Boyz rebound, qualify for knockout
Jamaica’s U20 footballers rebounded from the 5-0 thrashing they were dealt at the hands of Honduras to qualify for the knockout phase of the Concacaf U20 Championship yesterday.
Playing against Antigua and Barbuda inside the Francisco Morazan Stadium in San Pedro Sula in Honduras, the Jamaicans, through goals from Zion Scarlett (41st minute) and Jahmari Clarke (81st) ensured they finished third in Group H behind the hosts and Costa Rica.
The Jamaicans, replacing the mud bath they endured against Honduras with a grassy outfield against Antigua, benefited from a lovely bit of skill from Scarlett who had regained his starting spot.
Picking up a through ball down the right flank from Chad James, Scarlett pretended to wait for the ball, even after it had passed his right boot, freezing his marker, Tyrik Hughes, before driving into the box and slotting coolly past Antiguan goalkeeper, Shahoi Dorsett.
Earlier, Clarke had gotten a similar chance down the left side but his chipped attempt was thwarted by Dorsett.
Fastforward to the second half, and the Jamaicans, who only needed to avoid defeat to qualify, made their berth to the next round certain after substitute Tyler Roberts, during a drive to goal, was shoved to the ground by Antigua captain Dajun Bartley.
Bartley was red carded for illegally thwarting a goalscoring opportunity and Clarke stepped up to place the resultant powerfully to the left of a hapless Dorsett.
Honduras topped the group with a perfect nine points after beating Costa Rica 1-0 yesterday. Costa Rica, after the defeat, ended second with four points, while Jamaica were third with the same number of points, but a much worse goal difference after Saturday’s heavy defeat.
Jamaica will now turn their attention to one of four round-of-16 games on Saturday.