Boyz oozed confidence in 3-0 win

February 26th, 2012

Jamaica's goalscorer Ryan Johnson

CATHERINE HALL, St James — Members of the local Reggae Boyz squad are exuding confidence and being more positive and that has resulted in the encouraging results in their last two friendlies against Cuba, says head coach Theodore Whitmore.

The Jamaicans improved on a dismal show on Wednesday at the national Stadium to beat Cuba, 3-0, at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Friday and but for missed chances, should have at least doubled the scoreline against an overmatched opponent.

United States-based players Ryan Johnson and Je-Vaughn Watson gave Jamaica the lead at half-time, while substitute Mitchily Waul of Harbour View netted late to complete the scoring.

In a post-match interview Whitmore said the improvement in the confidence of the local based players was evident in training sessions and added to the lift in “attitude and discipline”, the difference was obvious.

He said the team showed “more organisation” and showed “signs of quality” that was not evident on Wednesday.

Eight local-based players started on Friday and dominated the game, keeping the Cubans pinned in their own half for long periods and were it not for the heroics of goalkeeper Odisnel Despaigne, who blocked not fewer than six shots from Dino Williams, who earned his first start, and strike partner Johnson in the 4-4-2 formation, the game could have been over in the first 40 minutes.

The Cubans defended stoutly, however, but had their hopes dashed in the second half when they missed a penalty that would have brought the scores back to 2-1, then conceded a goal with seven minutes to go, which their coach said caused them “to give up as they thought they had lost by then”.

In front of a good-sized crowd, Jamaica settled quickly, pushing the Cubans back in their own defensive area, and Williams, who had come on late Wednesday to create some problems for the Cubans, forced the first save from Despaigne in the 14th minute when he powered a shot on target that was blocked into the path of Johnson.

Jermaine Hue, who played just the first half before being rested, lofted a pass to Williams five minutes later, but again, Despaigne was equal to the task.

After three other saves by the Cuba custodian, his defence was finally breached in the 35th when Johnson pounced on a rebound and flicked into the unprotected goal.

It was 2-0 two minutes later before the Cubans had a chance to settle when Watson headed powerfully past Despaigne.

Whitmore had seen enough and made three changes at half-time, bringing on on Tremaine Stewart, Troy Smith and Waul. And despite the intensity lessening, Jamaica were still in command as the Cubans forced the first save from goalkeeper Richard McCallum in the 60th when the Waterhouse first-string goalkeeper tipped a shot for a corner.

Cuba forced a penalty in the 75th when an attacker was brought down, but Keiler Garcia Estrada powered over the top of the crossbar.

Waul was awarded a goal on the 83rd when his low, hard shot was deflected by a Cuban defender, giving Despaigne no chances of making yet another save.

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