An evening that promised so much delivered so little for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, as they were left still searching for their first victory in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers against Panama after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw last night inside the National Stadium.
Marvin Elliot made good of his height advantage in the 23rd minute to nod Jamaica into the lead, but Luis Henriquez’ 67th-minute strike earned the Panamanians a share of the points.
The result has left Jamaica, Panama and Mexico, who squandered a 2 nil advantage to draw 2-2 with Honduras, on two points each. The group is being led by Honduras (four), followed by USA (three) and Costa Rica (one).
The huge yellow-clad army that turned out to watch the Boyz had to patiently wait until the 23rd minute for Jamaica to mount its first meaningful attack, which yielded a corner, as the teams got off to a very sluggish start.
Left back, Demar Phillips, swung in the right sided corner and Elliot towered above everyone to head home.
Panama came close to pulling level in the 26th minute after a lovely link up play between Gabriel Gomez and Blas Perez resulted in the latter getting off a snap shot, which forced Donovan Ricketts to a save with his foot.
Jamaica were, however, forced to make a telling substitution in first half stoppage time after centre half Nyron Nosworthy, suffered what was later described as an injury to his Achilles’ tendon, which seems to require surgery.
Nosworthy was replaced by Omar Daley, who was fitted in at right back, with Jermaine Taylor moving into the heart of defence.
A misplaced clearance by Phillips in the 67th minute surrendered possession to Panama. Henriquez was then allowed too much space and got off a 25 yard shot, which beat the diving Ricketts to his left.
Jamaica would finish strong, however, as Jermaine Johnson, who was introduced in the 79th minute, ran at the Panamanian defence at every opportunity.
It was on one of Johnson’s dribbles in the 84th minute that saw the ball break to Shelton, but his first time effort form the top of the area was straight at the keeper.
Garath McCleary then got two bites of the cherry to give Jamaica only their third victory over the Central Americans in 13 meetings, but his second effort went inches wide of the left post.
Panama coach, Julio ‘Dely’ Valdes, was very pleased with the point.
“This is a positive result for us,” Valdes said. “Everyone came here and played well and I am happy with their performance.”
Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica’s head coach, had a totally different view.
“This is not the result we were looking forward to, but we have to prepare ourselves for good moments and bad,” Whitmore said.
“None of the games will be easy but we are looking forward to the Costa Rica game now, we know it won’t be easy.”
Jamaica will next tackle Costa Rica on Tuesday in San Jose.