Two great New York Caribbean Cup quarter final games were played at Thomas Jefferson High School field in Brooklyn on Sunday, Aug. 21.
In the opener Team Jamaica dismissed Team Panama 3-0, while the nightcap developed into a hair raiser before Team Guyana overcame Team Haiti 6-3.
Team Panama and Team Jamaica were meeting for the third time in the New York Caribbean Cup playoffs. In 2012, the Reggae Boyz went home 5-2 winners and in 2013, the game was blown off prematurely with Jamaica leading 3-0.
From the opening whistle, Los Canaleros exhibited a no-nonsense mood tackling crisply while putting their own attacks together.
Suddenly in the 22nd minute, Miguel Ricketts latched onto a pass down the left flank turned inside on his defender and passed to Andre McFarlane whose volley kick just eluded Michael Ashby and slid off the left post into the goal. Jamaica 1, Panama 0.
Both teams had their chances for the remainder of the half but there was no further scoring when the whistle sounded to end the first 45 minutes.
Five minutes after the break, Andre McFarlane was the architect of Jamaica’s second goal. This time his give and go with Jermaine Hue saw the midfield maestro’s shot just squeeze inside the right post.
Two minutes later, it was Ricketts who converted from a Jermaine Hue pass to put the Reggae Boyz clearly ahead 3-0.
Despite the win, the Jamaicans did not look as fluid as they normally do, which may be attributed to the fact that the team has not played together in almost four weeks. In addition, several regulars are carrying knocks and did not play.
Team Jamaica will play Team Grenada in this week’s semi-final at 3:15 pm.
The feature game between Team Haiti and Team Guyana was all that was expected of two very good teams which have never lifted the Caribbean Cup. The last time these teams met in the playoff arena was 2013 when Team Guyana won the third place playoff 4-2.
When the referee’s whistle sounded for the kickoff, Team Haiti was one man short yet Team Guyana failed to capitalize. The Guyanese players are such a joy to watch when they are playing well that it is so unfortunate that they are not more disciplined in their approach to the tournament.
The first break came in the 27th minute when Kevin Beaton knocked a ball over the line from close in to send the Golden Jaguars on their way.
Eight minutes later as the rain started to drizzle, Les Grenadiers were in shock when Travis Grant bundled home the ball from close in to double the Guyana lead.
As half time approached, the camel’s back appeared broken when Clive Nobrega and Gregory Richardson scored goals three and four for the Golden Jaguars.
The half time break was just what the doctor ordered for Les Grenadiers as they came out like a house on fire in the second half. Just after the break, Jean Gary Rubin stepped up to take a free kick just outside the box on the left side of the field. His curling kick found the head of Kevin Morency to pull one back for Haiti.
This seemed to infuse life into the Haitians as they lifted their game and played with reckless abandon and skill. And just as suddenly Team Guyana was on their heels and seemed a bit tentative in defense. Benchy Estama brought the scores even closer when he pounced on a ball mishandled by goalkeeper Richie Richards inside the six-yard box for an easy goal. Guyana 4, Haiti 2.
Haiti was all over Guyana now and it was no surprised when Jean Gary Rubin unleashed a ferocious right footer for goal number three for Haiti.
With their lead cut to 4-3 the Golden Jaguars seemed in a daze. They appeared to have pushed the panic button when just as suddenly Bryan Collins found Gregory Richardson in the 90th minute whose goal extended the Guyana lead 5-3.
Then in the 92nd minute of added time, Bryan Collins knocked the fight out Haiti when a ball blocked by Haiti’s goalkeeper Marc Donald Mervil fell at his feet and he booted number six for the Golden Jaguars.
Team Guyana will play Team Antigua and Barbuda in the 5:30 pm semifinal next Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016.