Jamaica and Canada played to a 0-0 draw in their FIFA World Cup Qualifier at Kingston’s National Stadium on Sunday.
The hosts, who entered the game badly needing maximum points to kick-start their failing campaign, went close to stealing the game at the end but fortune favored the tourists.
In other games played, Mexico slammed Honduras 3-0; Costa Rica overcame El Salvador 2-1 and Panama inflicted a first defeat on The US, 1-0.
So after five games in the 14-game series, Mexico lead with 11 points, followed by The US and Panama on eight points, with Canada and Costa Rica on six. El Salvador come next on five points, with Honduras on three points and Jamaica on two points.
Canada head coach John Herdman was more than happy with the result, and viewed it as one point won while denying one of his rivals two points on the “road”.
“We knew the Jamaican team has taken a bit of heat from their performances, so we knew they were going to come out firing — and I thought we controlled that well,” Herdman told the media via Zoom postgame presser.
“For the first 45 minutes I thought Canada were in control but we never really threatened them at the levels that we can, so we were not able to find that opposite side quick enough or create that cross or shooting opportunities,” he continued.
“And then the second half, I think again we had some good control but they are always going to catch you with set pieces and counter-attacks, and we had to be pretty resilient in some moments. So I think the main thing is we would’ve loved to get three points here but we’ve taken two away from Jamaica and added one instead, and (remain) undefeated — and it’s not easy to do on the road. So, I’m happy with how the boys came through that tonight, given how many players we were missing, and at the same time just the commitment of that group to get out there in tough conditions and give everything, which is what they’ve done.”
His opposite number, Theodore Whitmore was also happy with some aspects of his team’s performance, despite not securing all three points.
“I would’ve been satisfied with all three points today but first and foremost, keeping a clean sheet is a positive,” said the man under pressure to keep his job, according to local media reports.
“I’m very pleased with not only the defensive unit but for the entire unit. I think we worked as a team this afternoon. We battled together and hence, the sort of result,” he added.
As suspected Whitmore and his technical staff don’t appear to trust central defender Jamoi Topey, who plays locally with winning Jamaica Premier League outfit, Cavalier FC, and who was drafted in as cover after the late withdrawals of a number of players early last week.
Hence, Alvas Powell, a right wingback by trade, was asked to fill in at central defense alongside Adrian Mariappa and he was doing a decent job when he was forced out injured in the first half.
Devon Williams, surprisingly left out at the start, came in at central midfield and Je-Vaughn Watson, who started at centre midfield, was switched to central defense, further proof of the technical staff’s distrust of Topey to play at this level.
But at the end of the day, the defense held out really well, thanks to Mariappa and Oniel Fisher, in particular, who had outstanding games.
In fact, Fisher was so good at nullifying Canada’s main threat, Alphonso Davies, despite receiving an early yellow card.
“First, I think we were solid in the defense today and that is something that we worked on from the US game. And, I think it is a start to keep a clean sheet and we only can build on this performance going forward,” Whitmore noted.
Canada largely controlled possession but found the Jamaican defensive shape difficult to penetrate while Jamaica had their moments, with Kemar Roofe going close on a couple of occasions and Shamar Nicholson hitting the post once.
But it was Kemar Lawrence who went closest when his fierce grounder in the last minute was tipped around the post by goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau.
In the end, it was probably a fair result, as the teams look ahead to Wednesday’s sixth round of games when Jamaica visit Honduras in the battle of the cellar-dwellers.
Teams P W D L Gf Ga Gd Pts
Mexico 5 3 2 0 8 3 5 11
US 5 3 2 1 7 3 4 8
Panama 5 2 2 1 5 2 3 8
Canada 5 1 3 0 6 3 3 6
Costa Rica 5 1 3 1 3 3 0 6
El Salvador 5 1 2 2 2 5 -3 5
Honduras 5 0 3 2 2 8 -6 3
Jamaica 5 0 2 3 2 8 -6 2