Jamaica king of Caribbean soccer

The Jamaica team celebrates their victory in the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup championship.
Photo courtesy of digicelfootball.com
Photo courtesy of digicelfootball.com

Jamaican National Team Head Coach Theodore Whitmore is surely proving that Caribbean coaches can accomplish success on the international stage. The former Jamaican midfielder led the Reggae Boyz to victory in the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup championship to a 5-4 penalty kicks shout-out win over a very well organized and skillful Guadeloupe team last Sunday in Martinique.

The Jamaicans won all five matches in the tournament, giving up a miserly three goals on their way to their second straight Digicel Caribbean Cup title and fifth overall. The team showed their appreciation for their coach’s successful leadership by tossing him back and forth between them after the match.

In a very we-played game among two very highly technically skilled teams, the Jamaicans prevailed after a 1-1 tie in regulations when all five kickers scored their penalties. The crucial miss came from Guadeloupe Captain Jean Luc Lamboude, whose goal against Cuba in Guadeloupe’s 2-1 victory put the Gwada Boys in the final match. His shot went wide of the goal in what resulted in a cruel twist of fate dealt the Gwada Boys, who had played better for most of the contest.

Guadeloupe came out and pressured Jamaica from the onset; Reggae Boyz midfielders Rudolph Austin and Richard Edwards weren’t allowed much space to maneuver, and the Gwada Boys shut down Jamaica’s tournament leading scorer Luther Shelton. Guadeloupe played excellent team defense as they double and triple teamed the Reggae Boyz all-around the pitch and were very creative and skillful going forward.

It was the Reggae Boyz, though, who scored first when Austin’s cross from the right side was headed back into play from the far post by Shelton for Colorado Rapids striker Omar Cummings to hit a hard volley shot that rocked the roof of Guadeloupe net in the 32nd minute. Just five minutes after, Lery Hanany played a through ball for Ludovic Gotin, who raced past Jamaican left back Jermaine Taylor to hit home the equalizer in the 37th minute.

The teams battled for 102 minutes and showed the vast improvement in Caribbean soccer. There were near misses and stalwart performances for the predominantly French fans in Martinique. Austin was good at midfield for Jamaica and so was his counterpart Stephane Auvray; both defenses played intelligently and Yohann Bus, the Gwada Boys goalkeeper was excellent in goal. He saved the match for Guadeloupe when, in the dying stages of regulation, he dove to his left to deflect a shot from Austin that came out of a crowded goal area and had winner written all over it.

In the end, Jamaica had five heroes who were perfect from the penalty spot: Austin, Luton Shelton, O’Brian Woodbine, Eric Vernan and Troy Smith. Cuba defeated Grenada, 1-0, on a Roberto Balmaseda goal in the 12th minute. Cuba reached the semifinals for the third straight year; it has never won the Caribbean title, but finished second on three occasions. All four teams will play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the U.S., June 5-25, 2011. In World Cup news, FIFA, the sport’s governing body, awarded the hosting of the 2018 World Cup to Russia and the 2022 tournament to Quatar.

FC New York Gearing Up

FC New York, the latest entry to outdoor professional soccer in the U.S., will play its inaugural 2011 season in the A-League, the second tier of professional soccer in the U. S. The team, based in Uniondale (L.I.) New York, will be holding tryouts again for the 2011 season on Jan. 15 – 16 on Long Island. FC New York already held tryouts earlier with players coming from across the country and abroad. FC New York is expected to play its home games at Hofstra University’s Shuarte Stadium in Uniondale.

The FC New York Academy is part of the club’s goal to train young players for future playing roles with the club. Boys are needed for three academy teams in the Under-15, Under-16 and Super20 Divisions. For more information on tryouts and FC New York, contact technical director Matt Weston (886-827-0154) or visit the web site at www.Fcnewyorksoccer.com. For academy information, e-mail: [email protected]

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