Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz put Wednesday’s lukewarm results behind them and put in one of their most impressive performances in recent history to beat Antigua and Barbuda 3-0 in the Caribbean Cup at the Montego Bay Sports Complex last night.
The win moves the host to 4 points, the same as Haiti, who drubbed Martinique by an identical 3-0 margin to lead Group B. Tied on goal difference, Haiti lead, having scored more goals than the Reggae Boyz. The teams will meet on Sunday.
The team played with more purpose and a willingness to go forward against the Antiguans, who were more intent on keeping the Jamaican attackers at bay.
That plan was shattered in the 30th minute, when midfielder Kemar Lawrence collected a pass inside the Antiguan penalty area and fired low past the outstretched hand of Brentton Muhammad in goal.
Darren Mattocks then fired the Boyz further ahead when he beat Muhammad with another low shot in the 43rd minute, the Boyz waltzing into the half with a 2-0 lead and looking a completely different team than the one which drew 1-1 with Martinique earlier this week.
Captain Rodolph Austin capped off a good night with a powerful header in the 83rd minute.
Head coach Winfried Schäfer told journalists in his post-match interview that he was under no pressure to deliver a victory to keep the team with a chance of winning a sixth title and a second on home turf.
“I was under no pressure,” he said in response to a question.
“I believe in this team, and we believe in each other,” he added.
“The good thing is to see how we fight for this country. All the players gave their all for this country and we won, which is a good thing,” Schäfer said.
Prior to last night’s win, the Reggae Boyz were winless in six outings, but now turn their attention to tomorrow’s big final Group B match against leaders Haiti at 8:00 p.m., to determine who will advance to the final.
Meanwhile, Antigua coach Ralston Williams said his team was beaten by a more organised and determined Jamaican side, but is looking forward to their final match, also on Sunday, against Martinique in the day’s opener at 5:30 p.m.