Jamaica Reggae Boyz won 4-2 vs Guyana in Caribbean Cup

Theodore Whitmore was spared embarrassment as Jamaica’s interim head coach after his Reggae Boyz snatched a flattering 4-2 Caribbean Cup win in Guyana last night. The Boyz appeared to be dropping three precious points only for Dicoy Williams to grab an 88th-minute equaliser to force extra time.

Skipper Je-Vaughn Watson, Shaun Francis and Cory Burke were the other goalscorers in an entertaining yet cautious clash inside the purpose-built Leonora Stadium on the outskirts of Georgetown. Prior to kick-off there were numerous twists and turns, including the fact that contrary to initial reports it was in fact Suriname who ran out 3-2 winners against Guyana last Saturday.

And to add to Guyana’s woes it transpired that the squad were involved in a dispute over payment, dating back as far as a 2014 World Cup qualifier, with their football federation.

Jamaica also had a revelation, the squad had been chosen by out-going head coach ‎Winfried Schäfer and not Whitmore.

The only new face that Whitmore added was Seattle Sounders defender Oneil Fisher, but he was substituted early in the second half.

Reggae Boyz in training ahead of Guyana clash
Reggae Boyz in training ahead of Guyana clash via JFF
Whitmore’s return to the helm, a little over two years‎ after being replaced by Schäfer, looked to be turning into a nightmare inside the first half-hour.

Guyana bossed the tie from first whistle and took a deserved two-goal lead into the interval courtesy of a brace from ‎Adrian Butters.

The first goal arrived after just seven minutes, and Butters doubled their tally 22 minutes later to leave the Boyz on the brink of yet another embarrassing reversal.

Whitmore’s calculated gamble saw Michael Binns and Fisher replaced by Owayne Gordon and Dino Williams respectively just ten minutes into the second half.

And this gamble paid dividends, captain Watson toe-poking the ball over the line in the 63rd minute.

This strike rejuvenated the Boyz, who started to use the width of the pitch and their pace to pile the pressure on Guyana.

The hosts buckled under pressure, the referee pointing to the penalty spot after deeming that Burke had been tripped. Yet Francis failed to convert his 72nd-minute chance to leave the Boyz desperately seeking an equaliser.

With under 90 seconds remaining Dicoy Williams became the hero by floating the ball out of reach of keeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle and into the back of the net to level matters and leave Whitmore looking ecstatic in the dug-out.

The ensuing extra time turned into a cat-and-mouse game, but Francis turned from villain to hero by putting the Boyz into a 115th-minute lead.

And with Guyana forced to try to find another goal, the visitors ‎took advantage of the gaping gaps and it was Burke who rounded off the scoring exploits in the closing seconds.

Next up for ‎Jamaica is Suriname in the three-team group, the winner in Kingston will qualify for June’s 2017 Caribbean Cup semi-finals in the United States.

And the winner will also earn a berth at next year’s money-spinning CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Whitmore has passed his first test with Jamaica and is at an advantage for the Suriname tie in Kingston, which was postponed last week because of safety concerns following Hurricane Matthew at the Anthony Spaulding Stadium, as he now knows the weaknesses and strengths of his players.

But he has a lot of work to do before the do or die clash against Suriname based on the performance in Guyan‎a.

At least the shocking goal drought has been halted, and to bag four goals is a massive step towards steadying the Boyz.

Whether Whitmore will be steering Jamaica after these back-to-back matches remains to be seen, but if he can see off relative minnows Suriname – at a date to be confirmed – then he will be continuing to record fantastic results in the Ca‎ribbean Cup.

Having guided the Boyz to 2010 Caribbean Cup ‎glory, there’s every chance that Whitmore would like the opportunity to make it a repeat performance next year.
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