Group C: Jamaica 2 Guadeloupe 1
July 16 – Jamaica took a big step towards the knock out stages of the Gold Cup with a 2-1 win over Guadeloupe. But it they made hard work of it and needed a piece of individual skill by substitute Junior Flemings in the 87thminute to save Jamaica’s blushes.
Jamaica had gone into the game with a convincing 2-0 win against Suriname under their belt. But they were without one of the stars of that first game. Fulham’s Bobby Reid was one of two players who had tested positive for covid two days earlier.
The whole team was isolated and tested again yesterday with all the coming up negative. Even so, it wasn’t ideal preparation and as if to emphasise it Guadeloupe took an unexpected early lead. In the 5thminute Dimitri Ramothe attacking down the right looked to square the ball across the box but caught Amari’I Bell’s outstretched leg and was was diverted in at the near post.
It was an uncomfortable start for Jamaica who upped a gear and on 13 minutes Cory Burke, who plays in the MLS for Philadelphia Union, showed why he can fill Reid’s boots up front for the Reggae Boys. Guadeloupe gave the ball away too easily in midfield with the Jamaicans picking out Burke who out-muscled his defender to fire in the equaliser.
With Jamaica starting to get a grip of the game they thought they were 2-1 up when Leon Bailey first attempt at chipping Guadeloupe keeper Yohann Thuram was returned to him to chip in on the second attempt. VAR ruled him offside.
For Guadeloupe Mathias Phaeton was a constant threat but the Jamaican defense kept the attacks down to long shots.
On 38 minuted Burke had another chance when Shamar Nicholson knocked the ball down to him 4 metres out but he couldn’t get enough on it trouble Thuram.
Nicholson was then responsible for what was the miss of the half. A set piece saw him with a free header that went high over the top – it was painful to watch.
One of the truisms of football is that if you don’t take your chances eventually your opposition will make you pay for it. And if it hadn’t been for the brilliance of Andre Blake in Jamaica’s goal they would have gone in at half time a goal down.
In added time at the end of the half a screamer of a shot from Edwing Malpong looked destined for the top right hand corner of Jamaica’s goal only for Blake’s fingertips to flick the ball over. If Reid had scored the goal of the tournament so far against Suriname, Blake had just delivered the save of the tournament.
The second half reflected the first half with Jamaica continually wasteful in attack. The best chance came on 62 minutes with Burke again muscling off a defender to square to Nicholson who blew his shot high and wide. He was having a horrible early evening and on 81 minutes was substituted for Andre Gray.
With time running out it took a moment of individual quality to seal the three points for Jamaica. Junior Flemmings, on as a sub, beat two defenders before sliding the ball between Thuram’s legs. Relief and joy for Jamaica, disappointment for a battling Guadeloupe.
Jamaica now face Costa Rica in the final group game to decide who will top the group and face either the US or Canada.
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