Jamaica got their Gold Cup campaign off to a wining start against Curacao thanks to a couple of second half goals at the Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.
Jamaica bagged an important three points in their Group C opener against Curacao on Sunday after Romario Williams and Darren Mattocks struck in the second half to seal the win. Apart from being important to their hopes of progressing from the group, which also contains defending champions Mexico, the win also proved to be sweet revenge for the Reggae Boyz.
Jamaica were at the wrong end of the scoreline just two weeks ago when the two clashed in the Caribbean Cup final. The Jamaicans will be pleased with the result as they look to emulate their run from two years ago. The Caribbean nation shocked many as they managed to reach the 2015 Gold Cup final, eventually losing to Mexico. And judging by sentiments ahead of Sunday’s game, a winning start against Curacao looks auspicious:
“This is the biggest tournament in the confederation, so it is our desire to do very well here. We know that we owe it to ourselves and our people to correct the situation which took place in the Caribbean Cup,” team manager Roy Simpson said ahead of Sunday’s match.
— Gold Cup 2017 (@GoldCup) July 10, 2017
“The fact that we played against Curacao in the Caribbean Cup will be a plus for us. Also important is the fact that Curacao fielded their strongest team then and we did not. That will be another positive for us.
“For this tournament, we will benefit from the combined experience of players like (Je-Vaughn) Watson, (Dwayne) Miller, (Kemar) Lawrence, (Jermaine) Taylor, Jermaine Johnson and (Darren) Mattocks. Some of these players we had in the Caribbean Cup, but it would be good to have their collective experience now.”
Three points already in the bag means Jamaica may afford to drop points in upcoming games. Particularly against Mexico, who won the other Group C match on Sunday.
Captain Blake the outstanding player for Jamaica as he keeps his side in the game
Jamaica looked marginally the better of the two sides in a sluggish first half that saw few clear cut chances. Williams had a chance to strike on goal when he was played in by Fisher. But the 22-year old ended up handling the ball, wasting the opportunity. Jamaica could have pressed harder on counters to test Curacao, and may well have ended the match earlier.
As it turned out the best player on the pitch was easily the Jamaican captain Andre Blake. The 26-year old was voted the best keeper in the MLS for 2016, and saved his side’s skins more than once up until they finally got the lead. Curacao winger Elson Hooi almost beat the Philadelphia Union star with a shot at his near post. But Blake’s reflexes were up to it, and he managed to keep the ball out.
— Gold Cup 2017 (@GoldCup) July 10, 2017
The breakthrough finally came in the 58th when Williams latched on to Watson’s pass up the right to rifle his shot past room to make it 1-0. Blake was called in again after that to maintain their lead as he saved off a fierce strike from Nepomuceno.
But Mattocks soon cushioned the Reggae Boyz’ lead in the 73rd with a well-struck volley off Lawrence’s cross. A firm lead at hand, Blake and his charges focussed on keeping the Curacaoans at bay from there on. And to the satisfaction of coach Whitmore, they came away with a clean sheet. Blake in particular had an outstanding game, making six important saves through the contest. The captain can only hope for more of the same when they face El Tri next.
Both Curacao and Jamaica play next on Thursday, the 13th of July, at the Sports Authority Field in Denver.
Curacao will play El Salvador in the first game, as both look for their first points of the campaign.
Congrats to Andre Blake for winning the Man of the Match Award in his debut at the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He was… https://t.co/xyi5oT01mH
— Official J.F.F (@ItsTheJFF) July 10, 2017
The Reggae Boyz, on the other hand, will look to come out victors in another grudge match – their opponents from and winners of the 2015 Gold Cup final, Mexico.