A nervous nation hangs on to a glimmer of hope as Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz enter the new year with six fixtures remaining in their World Cup Qualification campaign. With four home games and two away, the team’s success in qualification hinges on the creation of a plan that cannot have any room for error.
Capitalize on home advantage
When Mexico travels to Jamaica later this month, it would be the first of four home games the Reggae Boyz will have to play until the World Cup Qualification octagon ends on March 30, 2022. The Mexicans will have a point to prove, having led early on in the group but now lie in 3rd position, behind high-flying Canada and a resurgent USA team.
Jamaicans will know that their record against Mexico hasn’t been the most impressive. However, the Reggae Boyz’s last three matchups against El Tri has seen them win twice and lost once, with the only defeat coming thanks to a last minute winner by the Mexicans back in the first game of the current campaign. Mexico of 2022 are nothing compared to the team of yesteryear that garnered the country a reputation for being one of the most formidable squads in the region. With the help of another 5000 ecstatic supporters and a cause to fight for, Jamaica should seek to leave the game with nothing less than three points.
The other three home games do conjure up less difficult opponents. Costa Rica, El Salvador and Honduras are all opponents who the Jamaicans have enjoyed favorable results against in the past. However, nothing less than a win can suffice for the Paul Hall led team if their dreams of going to Qatar are to remain alive. With the prospect of a win-only situation being proposed, it is important to note that so far in the current campaign, Jamaica has only enjoyed recent wins, out of the three opponents, against Honduras. The Boyz have not defeated the Costa Ricans since September 5, 2010, just over a decade ago, as for El Salvador, the last time Jamaica was on the winning side against them was in the 2015 Gold Cup where they ran out 1-0 winners.
It will be interesting to see if the Reggae Boyz will be able to maximize on the potential points to be earned from these four remaining home games. It would prove too difficult, impossible even, if the team were to drop any of the 12 available points at hand.
Avoiding defeat on the road
The Jamaicans will have to go to a rampant Canadian team who are the only team yet to lose a World Cup Qualifier in the octagon. The Canadians are experiencing perhaps their best ever run in their footballing history and they sit in a poised position to qualify for their first World Cup tournament since 1986. It would be in the best interest of the Reggae Boyz to avoid defeat. Afterall, they did achieve a draw against the Canadians in the reverse fixture back at The Office in October.
The Reggae Boyz’s second away fixture is another challenging task. The Panamanians famously humbled the Jamaicans 0-3 last September, in a game many of the nation’s fans believe involved our biggest blunder of the campaign so far. A damaging 3-0 defeat at home by Panama set the precedent for the first eight World Cup Qualifying fixtures. The Jamaicans have not won on Panamanian soil since November 1969 and have only won once in their last five encounters with Los Canaleros.
Avoiding defeat against the Panamians may not be pivotal for the Boyz’s qualification hopes, but given the fact that this match is the second fixture into the second half of the campaign, it would be morale boosting for the team if they were to achieve a favorable result.