For many years, Jamaica has often fought to stake their claim as one of the best teams in CONCACAF, for many years, falling short behind the United States and Mexico. The latter has often had the upper hand in encounters with Jamaica over the years, but recently the quality within their squad has diminished and now the Reggae Boyz have a chance to secure a rare win.
Arguably, this is the best ever assembled Jamaican national football squad for a World Cup qualifier. Emphasis on arguably. However, the results have yet to prove that. With 7 points obtained from a possible 24 and the sacking of the previous head coach – Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore – in December, it is truly difficult to determine whether the Reggae Boyz can overcome all the challenges to achieve World Cup qualification. The same could also be said of the Mexican team, whose campaign has not gone to plan so far either.
Having lost the recently held Gold Cup tournament to the USA in July, succumbing to a 1-0 defeat in the final, El Tri would have been determined to be more dominant in the Octagon. They however lie in third place and have only won two out of their last five World Cup qualifying games.
The Mexicans will also be without talisman Hirving Lozano for the game against Jamaica, who will miss out due to suspension having accumulated too many yellow cards. Star man Raul Jimenez is also not enjoying the best form of his career, having scored only two goals all season for Wolves in the English Premier League. Mexico’s defensive capabilities have also been exposed in their recent fixtures and Paul Hall would hope that his starting XI are able to capitalize on Mexico’s frailties at the back.
However, Tata Martino’s men have still been potent in front of goal, netting 11 goals in their 8 matches, compared to Jamaica’s 6 goals in 8 games.
At home, the Reggae Boyz do boast a decent record in World Cup qualifying fixtures. Since 2000, Jamaica has hosted 29 WCQ games at The Office and have won 12, drawn 8 and lost 9. In their recent game at home against the United States, the Boyz were impressively dominant throughout the majority of the game and could have won if it were not for a controversial call by the referee for a foul prior to Damion Lowe’s would-be game-winning header. With the incoming VAR system to be used for the first time on Jamaican soil in the game against Mexico, instances of such controversy should hopefully be avoided.
Jamaica and Mexico have history, serious history at that and oftentimes their encounters have produced some memorable results, particularly for Jamaica. When the two face off once more on Thursday, considering everything that is at stake, we should see another memorable encounter.