Dixon's strike the difference between Reggae Boyz and Soca Warriors in opening friendly

By March 01, 2024
Kaheim Dixon Kaheim Dixon

Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz drew first blood against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, as they registered a 1-0 win in the first of their two-match friendly series at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.

Kaheim Dixon's 58th-minute strike proved the solitary goal of the contest which was played behind closed doors to facilitate preparation for the twin island republic's Carifta Games trials.

Dixon, the former Clarendon College stalwart, was the first Reggae Boy to score on debut since Justin McMaster's feat against Cameroon in 2022.

Reggae Boyz assistant coach Merron Gordon said their main objective to expose new talents were met as they fielded 13 debutants on the day.

"Games like these are always tough playing against Trinidad and Tobago, but I think it was a good game. Both teams, I think had the same objective which was to expose these players as much as possible and I think we got that," Gordon said in a post-match interview.

"When you see a player like Kahiem score a goal on his debut is amazing and these are the kind of things that we want for them to transition from schoolboy football into international football and I think he acquitted himself well, and young Jayden Hibbert in goal is a teenager as well so that augurs well for us," he added.

The Jamaicans started well, and were more threatening in open play in the early exchanges, before Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors found their rhythm. Though the first half ended goalless, it wasn't for a lack of trying, as both teams had looks at goal.

In the 12th minute, Kaihim Thomas got the first effort off for the Soca Warriors from a distance, but Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Kemar Foster took flight to tip over.

Alex Marshall, who proved a menace to the Soca Warriors's backline, responded for the Reggae Boyz, but his effort was parried by Adrian Foncette, in goal for Trinidad and Tobago.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz maintained the momentum on the resumption and again went close through Romeo Guthrie, whose shot was blocked by Foncette at his near post two minutes in.

The deadlock was eventually broken when Dixon produced an intelligent run down the right channel, dismissed a defender and tucked home.

They should have doubled the lead in the 65th when Sue-Lae McCalla found himself with space and time to fire home from Guthrie's corner, but somehow steered the effort wide.

Seconds later, Marshall and Dixon connected well with the latter driving his right-footer into the sidenetting.

The Reggae Boyz continued to apply consistent pressure but found the Soca Warriors defence in defiant mode, as a 69th-minute effort by Jason Wright from Andre Fletcher's pass, was charged down.

A minute later, Devante Campbell played a perfect pass across the face of goal, but Wright couldn't apply finishing touch.

Campbell also had a grand opportunity to get on the scoresheet in time added, when he found himself in a one-on-one situation with substitute goalkeeper Christopher Biggette, but his tame effort was swallowed up by the custodian, who left his line well.

Despite the scoreline, Soca Warriors Head coach Angus Eve, took heart from the performance.

"Not disappointed at all. Many of these players are playing at this level for the very first time and I think they acquitted themselves well and we were in the game for the most part, but we gave away a sloppy goal that proved the difference in the game. We want to give people exposure as you can see, we made minimum number of changes because we wanted to expose the young guys as much as possible. So, this is a good exercise for them to understand the pace of the game at this level going forward," Eve said.

The teams will meet again on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima at 3:00pm Jamaica time.

NB: That game can also be seen live on SportsMax 

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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