Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz captain and shot stopper Andre Blake, will host a goalkeeping clinic at the UWI-Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, on December 14 and 15. The clinic will run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day.

This clinic will provide exceptional goalkeeper training to more than 24 youth goalkeepers selected from the top ISSA Manning Cup and daCosta Cup teams, and two female goalkeepers from Reinas Academy.

The goalkeepers will receive top-notch training led by the experienced Phil Wheddon, who also serves as Andre Blake’s goalkeeper coach at Philadelphia Union.

Wheddon is the only goalkeeper coach in United States history to have coached both the men’s and women’s national teams in a FIFA World Cup. He coached in three World Cups and won two Olympic gold medals with United States.

Other participating goalkeeper coaches include Jamaica Under-20 coach Andrew Sewell, national goalkeeper Jahmali Waite, Reinas Academy’s Neo Oxford and Kingston College’s Robert Beckford.

Blake, who will lead the Reggae Boyz into Concacaf Nations League semi-final action, as well as the CONMEBOL Copa America next year, explains the rationale behind the initiative.

“To whom much is given, much is required, and so this is my way of supporting the next generation of goalkeepers. I want to see what these goalkeepers look like and try to educate them on what it will take to get to the next level. Having Phil on board is great because he brings an extensive amount of knowledge and experience with him,” Blake shared.

Blake’s initiative is supported the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA), Sagicor Foundation, Spectrum Systems Limited, TruShake, Powerade, Courtyard Marriott, Leep Marketing, and UNL Sport.

Angus Eve received a contract extension to lead Trinidad and Tobago’s Soca Warriors into their crucial Concacaf Nations League playoff against Canada, as they hunt a spot in next year’s prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America tournament.

Should the Soca Warriors succeed in bettering their North American opponents in March, the possibility exists that Eve might not be the one to lead them beyond that, as he is not expected to receive a new contract before the Normalisation Committee’s term ends, also in March.

This was confirmed by the Normalisation Committee’s chairman Robert Hadad, on Saturday.

Eve, who recently blasted the twin island republic’s football fraternity for its lack of support, got his desire where signing a new contract is concerned, but Hadad ruled out another extension by the Normalisation Committee, whose own tenure will also end in March.

“His contract ends in March when our term ends, so in principle we agreed that we wanted the coach to run the same timelines as the Normalisation Committee,” Hadad said on the ISports radio programme on Saturday.

“Subsequent to that, the new in-coming president and the new in-coming ex-co (executive committee) can decide who they want to be their coach. Angus would have every opportunity with them to prove himself before (the end of his tenure) and hopefully, they would continue, and they would make that decision. But in principle, we did say all along that we do not think that we should be hiring a coach or anybody for that matter to exist beyond our term,” he added.

Hadad was also reluctant to have the Normalisation Committee extend itself more than necessary before its tenure ended.

“The Normalisation Committee has been making a lot of decisions without a technical committee in place and we believe that we need to give the new, in-coming executive committee the opportunity to set the football and Trinidad and Tobago Football Association up the way they want it,” he said, as he threw his support behind Eve.

“Angus though I would say is exceptional. He’s done a fantastic job, Angus and his entire team. I would expect him to be very professional because it is in his interest, if his desire is to continue coaching Trinidad and Tobago, to perform in that game on the 23rd,” Hadad noted.

Eve guided the Soca Warriors through a spirited Concacaf Nations League campaign, as they topped their group in League A action, and progressed to the quarterfinals where, despite losing on aggregate, they inflicted a famous second-leg defeat on United States.

Hadad pointed out that the Normalisation Committee always had confidence in Eve’s leadership.

“We were very optimistic that we would perform well all along. Angus took us to where we are today, and we had faith in Angus all the way through. We understood what his development plans were; he was very candid with us, he explained to us what he was doing and when something didn’t go right, he would not be running and hiding, he would be discussing the matter with us,” Hadad shared.

“We thought him (to be) the best option to get us to where we are today. Now that he has gotten us here, yes, it is a little uncomfortable that his term ends in March and he has this very big game, but we believe if he gets us into that game against Argentina (opening Copa America match) and we manage to defeat Canada, we think that the new executive committee would consider him,” he opined.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson knows his team is in for a tough time given their draw for next year’s CONMEBOL Copa America but fancies their chances of beating the odds.

This, as their Group B opponents –Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador –are all familiar foes to some extent, and given the significant improvements in terms of the quality of players his Reggae Boyz squad now boats, Hallgrimsson believes the group is going to produce some very interesting matches.

Though this will be his first time leading the Reggae Boyz in the prestigious Copa America, the occasion marks the third time Jamaica will grace South American tournament, after appearances in 2015 when they faced Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina, and 2016 when they opposed Venezuela, Mexico, and Uruguay.

“I didn't know much about Venezuela, but after thinking, it's tough teams really, all the three teams. If I can say something similar about them all, is that they are competitive, really hard working, and all of these nations play enthusiastic and tough tackling football. So, it's all tough, tough opponents, but I think it's quite an equal group,” Hallgrimsson said.

“So that means, I don't think any team will be a runaway winner with nine points in this group. I think all teams will have a chance against each other, so it is quite an equal group. There is not a team that anybody can take for granted, and I don’t think there is a team that will be a runaway winner,” he added.

While Jamaica has squared off against Mexico and Venezuela a number of times over the years, they have only faced Ecuador three times in 2009, 2011 and 2018, losing two of those games 2-5 and 0-2, while the other ended in a goalless stalemate.

“So, in that sense if we prepare well and get our points, we will always have a chance to progress from this group, but I think all the teams will think the same. So, that is my feeling and after looking at the opponents I feel a little bit better,” Hallgrimsson declared.

“I didn't know much about Venezuela, I knew a little bit about Ecuador, and of course, we know a lot about Mexico, but I think that everyone has a chance in these games. So, all teams can pick points from each other,” he noted.

Having produced a stunning comeback to better Canada in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal recently, Hallgrimsson pointed out that their preparations will be focused on maintaining that momentum in the semi-final against United States, before turning their focus to the Copa America in June.

“We had already made a plan what was going to happen. So, the early months of the year, in January, maybe half of February, we'll go in Jamaica for domestic players. Hopefully we will get a friendly against a Caribbean nation or maybe in United States. So, in January US-based players can also play these matches.

“But the plan was always to focus on the domestic based players in January and maybe beginning of February. Then from maybe mid-February, we have to think about the Nation's League semifinal against US. So, we turn our focus to that project and then of course after that we will have the draw for the World Cup (qualifying) games,” the Icelandic coach shared.

“So that will be complete focus on those games. So, we are kind of forced to turn our focus to the next project all the time and then after the World Cup (qualifying) games we we've turned our focus to the Copa America. So that is our plan, it's a full schedule and we have to be really focused on every project, because all of these matches are important,” he ended.

Jamaica will open their campaign against Mexico on June 22, Ecuador on June 26, before completing their Group Stage matches against Venezuela on June 30.

In other group pairings, the United States finds itself in Group C alongside Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia. Group D is set to witness a showdown between Costa Rica or Honduras against heavyweights Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay. Group A promises a tough challenge for Trinidad and Tobago or Canada, who will face off against World Cup champions Argentina, Peru, and Chile.

Trinidad and Tobago’s senior men’s Head coach Angus Eve pulled no punches, as he opened up about the lack of support received during his tenure.

Eve’s revelation came during a recent interview on the I95 sports radio programme, where he also disclosed that he was without a contract and was yet to have discussions with the Normalisation Committee (NC) regarding an extension, at that point.

“They (NC) are a little bit finicky to do something about it (the contract) because, the football fraternity, I don’t know if they want me to sign a new contract. I have not heard from any of them since I have been doing this job,” Eve said, referring to the lukewarm response from the TTFA Zones.

The tactician, who led the Soca Warriors to a fairly successful Concacaf Nations League campaign, where they got to the quarterfinal and registered an historic win over United States but lost the two-leg tie on aggregate. Still, they have a second shot at Copa America qualification via a playoff fixture against Canada scheduled for March 23.

“But they are a little bit hesitant to do anything because they are studying what the members will think. So, the members have not really shown me any support. Except the president of the South Zone Dennis Latiff and Ross Russell (North Zone president) who is my friend, no other president has reached out to me or spoken to us,” Eve disclosed.

Eve believes it would be prudent if he signed a contract before the Canada game, having achieved objectives, which also included Gold Cup qualification.

“We have never been in this place before. We have never reached out of the group stage and into the knockout stage and try to reach in the quarterfinals and semi-finals of the Nations League before. So, I think we have achieved all of our targets, all of our objectives that have been placed in front of us,” he said.

 “Win, lose or draw. I could possibly not be the coach (after March). Through the whole tenure it has been like that. I think there is a distinct lack of support. A lot of the things you read on social media is like if people don’t want me in the job, so I tend to want to focus on the guys,” Eve noted.

The outspoken coach also alluded to the challenges faced with getting the twin island republic back to this point of competitiveness.

“It has been a re-building process, and it has gone pretty much better than we expected. Nobody expected us the way we got into the A, nobody felt that we belonged, and we were under pressure from the first match,” Eve shared.

“Also, there was some other stuff happening behind the scenes with some of the older players and it probably took a little of the focus away from the homing in on the games. We were fighting against a lot of stuff, and I think that the staff and the Normalisation Committee pulled together, the people who support us.

“We insulated ourselves and I think you saw the fruit of that re-building where we won three of the four games and that was fantastic,” he ended.

In a spectacular display of talent reminiscent of his father's glory days, central defender Damion Lowe emerged as a key player in Jamaica's recent thrilling come-from-behind victory over Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League quarter-final match in Toronto.

The Reggae Boyz secured a 3-2 win, setting the stage for an eagerly anticipated showdown with the USA. Coach Heimir Halgrimsson’s move to push Lowe into midfield paid immediate dividends as Reggae Boyz scored two quick goals before Bobby Reid’s penalty sealed the match for the Jamaican team.

Onandi Lowe, a legend of the 1998 World Cup squad, couldn't help but express his pride in his son's performance.

The elder Lowe, who made history as part of Jamaica's 1998 World Cup team, sees a reflection of himself in his son. Having played as a forward throughout his professional career and scoring 27 goals for Jamaica, Onandi is delighted to witness Damion's rise as a formidable central defender.

"That's my son, and they should know that what is in me is in him," beamed a proud Onandi to the Jamaica Gleaner after the game.

"When he was much younger, he used to cry because of the excitement of the National Stadium, but by carrying him over and over, he started to run on the field and kick the ball to goal every chance he got. That's where it all started."

Now, as Damion performs on the global stage, Onandi feels a profound sense of accomplishment and continuity. "My book is complete. I came, I saw, and I achieved, and my son came, saw, and continues the journey," he reflected with gratitude.

To say that 2023 was an outstanding year for rising Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Denzil Smith would be an understatement.

Smith, who earned his first senior cap in March, has been a staple and standout performer for the Soca Warriors since, and by all indications, has no intentions of relinquishing his spot. In fact, the 24-year-old has boldly staked his claim as frontrunner to become the twin island republic’s next number one shot stopper.

“I always wanted this chance (to play for the senior team) and I waited for it for a long time. It’s a great feeling going out there to play against a big team and country. I feel great, to be honest,” Smith said, adding that his career path was inspired by the likes of now-retired Marvin Phillip and still in-action Andre Foncette and Canadian-based Nicklas Frenderup.

“Being around the national team for a while, I can say that these guys taught me a lot and I’m thankful for that,” he noted.

After two heroic performances between the sticks in Trinidad and Tobago’s 0-3 loss and 2-1 win against United States in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinals, Smith has grown even more in confidence.

Though Trinidad and Tobago failed to make the Nations League semi-finals and qualify automatically for next year’s CONMEBOL Copa America, the Angus Eve-coached team still have a second shot at qualification for the prestigious South American tournament.

To do so, they will have to get by the other North American powerhouse Canada, in a single-match playoff scheduled for March, and Smith is cautiously optimistic about assisting his team towards the feat.

“What really motivated me during the Nations League was that chance to play in Copa America. I really want to play there and I know my teammates also want to play there, so that was our main driving force over the past few games,” Smith shared.

Until the opportunity comes to possibly deny Canada, Smith is looking ahead to the upcoming TTFL season to not only put his club Point Fortin in a position to challenge for the title, but also to improve his craft.

“I want to keep as much clean sheets as I can and help the (Point Fortin) boys to come and join me in the national team. I also want to help this side to qualify for the Concacaf tournaments. It will do wonders for the club,” Smith reasoned.

“My family is always behind me no matter what. My brother passed away a few years ago and everything I’m doing is for him. I really want T&T to qualify for the Copa American and, honestly, I want to get a big contract outside (of T&T),” he ended.

Trinidad and Tobago senior men's Head coach Angus Eve says the momentum from their recent Concacaf Nations League win over United States will serve his team well in their buildup for the Copa America playoff encounter against Canada next March.

Despite losing the overall quarterfinal tie against United States 4-2 on aggregate, Eve and his Soca Warriors took heart from the fact that they topped their more fancied rival 2-1 in the second leg at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Monday.

While United States secured a spot in the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals and Copa America, along with Jamaica, Mexico and Panama, Trinidad and Tobago are set to face Canada, with Honduras to oppose Costa Rica, to decide the final two Concacaf representatives to contest the prestigious Copa America.

Though the upcoming contest against Canada is one which they will again be the proverbial underdogs, Eve and his players eagerly await the challenge that lies ahead, especially after the confidence boosting win.

"This (result) goes a long way in building team confidence. Every time the guys play, they get a little more confidence. When they play a game like this against an opposition like that – and come out with that type of performance and come out with that type of result – it only augurs well for them to believe in themselves more,” Eve said.

Eve also commended captain Aubrey David, who took over the team captaincy after Kevin Molino retired, for his leadership on and off the field.

"This is a fantastic result for us for where we are in our development,” the tactician noted.

David, 33, also expressed delight in the team’s progression.

"I think it is a step in the positive direction for us to get the win. This is the last FIFA window for the year, so I think we have ended the year on a good note, and the players have a lot of belief amongst themselves that we can play against the likes of the US and these teams,” said David.

"This was our goal when the year started. We wanted to get back into (Concacaf Nations) League A and try to stake a claim and put T&T football back where it was.

"It is a bittersweet feeling. It is amazing to get a victory against the US at home, but we did not get to qualify for the Copa America tournament this time around. We have another game in March, and we have to go with everything we have. I think we can do the job in March,” he added.

Meanwhile, defender Alvin Jones, who was named in the window’s League A Best XI, stole the show against United States with a rasping right-footed free kick in the second half.

"Scoring the winner against the US at home is a big thing for me and this month is a very emotional month for all of us as a country," said Jones, referring to the 34th anniversary of the 1989 World Cup qualifier between the Strike Squad and the United States.

"We have a lot of young talent coming up, and it is just about coaching them and nurturing them. This win can build our confidence going forward to the next round to try and qualify for Copa 2024,” Jones reasoned.

The November window of League A of the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League is now complete and even though many players delivered top performances over the course of the matches, only these 11 players stood out the most at their respective positions.

Goalkeeper

Andre Blake, Jamaica

Blake was superb in both legs against Canada, making four clearances and eight saves, including two reaction stops from point-blank range early in the first half in the second leg.

Defenders 

Alvin Jones, Trinidad and Tobago

Jones has a habit of being a thorn in the side of United States, and he did it again in the 2-1 second leg win for the Soca Warriors with a sensational free kick goal and an assist. He also had four steals and 10 clearances in the two games.

Antonee Robinson, United States

Robinson played a big role in United States success with a goal and an assist in the 3-0 first leg win, and then the lone United States goal in the second leg. He also had four steals.

Michael Murillo, Panama

Murillo was the one to get things rolling for Panama, scoring their opening goal in the first leg. He finished the two-legged series with two steals and a clearance.

Midfielders

Edson Alvarez, Mexico

Alvarez scored a goal that Mexico fans will never forget, finding the back of the net in the final seconds of the second leg to bring Mexico level with Honduras 2-2 on aggregate. He also made two clearances and had a steal.

Adalberto Carrasquilla, Panama

Carrasquilla was masterful yet again for Panama in the midfield with a pair of assists while completing almost 90 percent of his passes.

Luis Chavez, Mexico

Chavez has become Mexico’s free-kick specialist and he scored again from a dead ball in what was Mexico’s first goal in their series with Honduras. He completed an astounding 91 percent of his passes.

Gio Reyna, United States

Reyna scored one of the three U.S. goals in the first leg against Trinidad and Tobago and then also had a steal in 140 minutes of action.

Forwards 

Luis Palma, Honduras

Palma set the table for the opening goal for Honduras in their 2-0 first leg win versus Mexico and also collected two steals in addition to his assist.

Jose Fajardo, Panama

Fajardo scored in each game for Panama against Costa Rica, giving him goals in three straight games against the Ticos.

Shamar Nicholson, Jamaica

Nicholson scored three of Jamaica’s four goals against Canada and completed more than 95 percent of his passes. He now has a whopping nine career CNL goals.

Reggae Boyz central defender Damion Lowe has described defeating Canada to advance to the 2024 Copa America and the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals as a top two moment of his national team career along with their 1-0 win over Mexico at the Rose Bowl in the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup.

Lowe was instrumental in helping the Boyz defeat their rivals 3-2 at the BMO Field in Toronto on Tuesday to secure a spot in the semis as well as next year’s Copa America.

The final score over the two legs was 4-4 with Jamaica advancing based on the away goals rule.

“It’s up there. I think top two. I think beating Mexico 1-0 at the Rose Bowl is still the best moment of my national team career but this one is up there for sure especially with all the talking that has been going on from the Canadian team but the guys showed real heart today,” Lowe said in an interview after the game.

In what can only be described as a masterstroke by head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson, Lowe, who started the game at his preferred centre back position, was moved into the midfield in the second half, a move that completely changed the game in Jamaica’s favor.

The first of Shamar Nicholson’s two goals on the night came after an excellent assist from Lowe after winning the ball in the final third.

“Nothing too hard for me to think about because I’ve played there and have experience there,” said Lowe about the move to midfield.

“I just tried to analyze the spots that I should be in and just try to help the team as much as possible. I didn’t really think about it at all. Coach just told me I’m playing central midfield and I said okay then just went in and gave my all,” he added.

A national team member for over seven years, the 30-year-old hopes that this is the first step of Jamaica consistently getting over the line and qualifying for big tournaments.

“It’s big! As I said to the guys, it’s no more almost. Every year, every two years it’s almost getting to the finals; almost getting to the semi-final; almost getting to the world cup. Now it’s time to get over the line and we’ve achieved one goal in getting to the Copa America. We’re in the semi-finals of the Nations League so I’m grateful,” he said.

Lowe will now turn his attention to an MLS Cup Conference Semi-final for his Philadelphia Union as they are set to take on FC Cincinnati on Saturday.

“That’s the focus right now. We’re going back into camp tomorrow to prepare for that and get some recovery done and Saturday we have a big semi-final against Cincinnati,” he said.

 

 

 

French Guiana and Guyana will contest League A in the next Concacaf Nations League edition, as both secured promotion at the end of League B action on Tuesday.

French Guiana vs. Bermuda

French Guiana defeated Bermuda 3-0, at the Pierre-Aliker Stadium in Fort-de-France, Martinique, to secure top spot in Group C.

Marvin Golitin, in goal for French Guiana, intercepted a free kick service in the 17th minute to deter any positive momentum from the visitors.

French Guiana’s Albert Ajaiso struck inside the box in the 29th on a second opportunity from a long-range hit by Zedan Charlec.

Arnold Abelinti had a hit from outside the box in 45+1 but was just wide of the mark.

Loic Baal added the second in the 49th, with a header at the right post. Abelinti was influential in keeping the play alive prior to the cross in from left field.

Joel Sarrucco added a third in the 90+4 after heading in a contested ball inside the box.

St Vincent and the Grenadines vs. Belize

St Vincent and the Grenadines were 3-0 winners over Belize at the Kirani James Athletics Stadium in St. George's, Grenada.

The win saw St Vincent and the Grenadines taking second spot on nine points, one behind French Guiana, while Belize, ended third on eight points.

Diel Spring opened the scoring in the third minute after connecting with a back pass from Oalex Anderson. 

NAnderson was denied by the left post in the 24th, as St Vincent and the Grenadines pushed for the second goal.

Cornelius Stewart was also denied by the woodwork on his free kick attempt which came off the crossbar, in the 61st minute.

Stewart was denied by the right post in the 70th and Deshawon Nembhard followed the play with a clearance to deny the ball crossing the line.

Kyle Edwards found the back of the net in the 84th, with a chipped ball from midfield to put Vincy Heat 2-0 up.

Oryan Velox sealed the result in the 85th with a hit inside the box, as the host moved out of the relegation spot and secured their stay in League B.

Guyana vs. Antigua and Barbuda

Guyana registered a fifth-consecutive win to confirm their spot as Group D winners when they defeated Antigua and Barbuda, 6-0, at the Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Kelsey Benjamin opened the scoring in the seventh minute by connecting with a pass across the box from Liam Gordon.

Benjamin went from goal scorer to provider in the 36th with a pass from right field to find an incoming Omari Glasgow inside the box.

Nathan Moriah-Welsh struck from behind the halfway line in the 45th, as Guyana took a commanding 3-0 lead at the break.

Osaze de Rosario added his name to the scoresheet in the 67th by cutting inside and striking a curling shot to the far-right corner of the net.

Leo Lovell added his own in the 90th, with a crossing ball from Gordon, who earned his second assist of the night.

Deon Moore capped off a buildup in the 90+3 to secure the largest margin of victory for Guyana in this campaign, as the Golden Jaguars secured their move to League A.

Puerto Rico vs. Bahamas

Puerto Rico took a 6-1 win over the Bahamas at the Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon.

The win pushed them to 12 points, as they finished second behind Guyana, with Antigua and Barbuda and Bahamas on four and one point respectively. 

Ricardo Rivera put the home side in the lead in the second minute after he finished from deep inside the box.

Rivera struck again from inside the box in the sixth on a second attempt after initially being denied by Charles Tillett.

And Rivera completed the hat-trick in the 19th, with a header in front of goal after he met a cross from Noeh Hernandez.

Darren Rios added a fourth in the 39th after winning an aerial ball and proceeding to beat the defenders.

Marcel Joseph cut the deficit to 4-1 in the 53rd, off a free kick opportunity that Joel Serrano was unable to keep out of his goal. 

Gerald Diaz struck from outside the box in the 74th, with a right-footed strike just at the edge of the penalty arc, before Wilfredo Rivera converted from the penalty spot in the 77th for Puerto Rico’s best margin of victory during the group stage.

Nicaragua vs. Dominican Republic

Nicaragua concluded its campaign with a scoreless draw against the Dominican Republic at the National Football Stadium in Managua.

They finished tops in Group B on 16 points, six points ahead of Dominican Republic.

Oscar Acevedo tested goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd in the very first minute with a strike from outside the box. 

Nicaragua’s Luis Coronel entered in the 31st due to an injury to Matias Moldskred. Coronel had a chance towards goal, but it was headed away by the defender Brian Lopez. 

Riki Alba had the best chance of the first half for the Dominican Republic in the 34th but was unable to get it on frame.

Juan Pineda nearly put the visitors in front in the 51st, but the sides remined deadlocked.

Acevedo had another good look on goal in the 74th, as Nicaragua continued its pursuit of a sixth straight victory.

Dorny Romero was denied the late heroics in the 90+7, as Miguel Rodriguez made the clutch block to maintain the clean sheet.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is singing praises for the Reggae Boyz following their remarkable comeback win against Canada in Toronto on Tuesday night. The Reggae Boyz staged a historic turnaround, with two second-half goals from Shamar Nicholson and Bobby Reid's penalty kick securing a 3-2 victory over Canada and propelling Jamaica to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League.

In a thrilling encounter that ended 4-4 on aggregate, Jamaica advanced on the away-goal rule, sparking celebrations among football enthusiasts and earning the team high praise from President Michael Ricketts.

"Jamaica's football fans were put on the edge of their seats throughout the game," expressed President Ricketts. "We are so proud of the effort and determination demonstrated by the team. They fought so hard with their backs against the wall, a true example of the character that the country needs to tackle any adversity we may encounter."

The historic win not only secured Jamaica's place in the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League but also earned them a spot in the prestigious Copa America, setting the stage for more high-stakes encounters. President Ricketts sees this as a pivotal opportunity for the team's growth and cohesion ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers next year.

"Now they get a chance to play more big games in the semifinals of the Nations League and the Copa America, which will, in turn, help to pull them together for the World Cup Qualifiers next year," added President Ricketts.

This victory marks Jamaica's first entry into the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League, showcasing the team's rising prominence in regional football. Additionally, it is the third time Jamaica will participate in the distinguished Copa America, underlining their growing influence on the international stage.

The win over Canada holds special significance, as it not only secured Jamaica's first-ever victory over Canada in Canada but also marked the first time Jamaica registered three goals against a North American team on North American soil. The historic triumph is a testament to the Reggae Boyz's resilience and skill, earning them a special place in the annals of Jamaican football history.

 

 

Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz achieved what will be remembered as one of the most remarkable comebacks in Concacaf Nations League history, as they stunned Canada 3-2 in a lively second-leg League A quarterfinal encounter, at BMO Field in Toronto, on Tuesday night.

Spurred by a brace from Shamar Nicholson, who scored in the 63rd and 66th minutes to take his international tally to 16 goals, and a 78th-minute Bobby Reid penalty, the Jamaicans overturned a 1-2 deficit to win on the away goal rule. The tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

Alphonso Davies (25th) and Ismael Kone (69th) got Canada's goals.

Heimir Hallgrimsson's side in the process of securing their spot in the Nations League semi-finals, as well as the prestigious CONMEBOL Copa America 2024, rewrote the history books, as it was their first ever victory on Canadian soil, and the first time that the Caribbean side was scoring three goals against a North American opponent on their turf.

The Reggae Boyz are now set to lock horns against United States in one semi-final, in March, while Mexico, who overturned a two-goal deficit and defeated Honduras 4-2 on penalty, will meet Panama in the other, much like they did in this year's Gold Cup final.

Meanwhile, Canada will face Trinidad and Tobago in one Play-In fixture, while Costa Rica and Honduras will meet in the other. The winner of those Play-In contests will qualify for next year's Copa America.

After taking a 2-1 lead in their rain-interrupted first-leg clash at the National Stadium, Canada pressed that ascendancy at the start in the packed BMO Field and could have easily extended their advantage in the first 15 minutes, but for two incredible saves from Jamaica's goalkeeper Andre Blake.

The host inevitably got their breakthrough when Davies met a cross from the left and fired a shot that was initially deflected by Blake but spun backward into net.

Jamaica needed a response and minutes after should have pulled level after the re-start, but Leon Bailey's dry spell in the national setup continued, as he slammed his left-footed shot into crossbar.

The equalizer eventually came three minutes past the hour when Damion Lowe showed grit to dispossess an opponent and slipped a pass through for Nicholson, who rifled a right-footer past Canada's custodian Milan Borjan.

With the momentum now in their favour, the Jamaicans took the lead three minutes later on a well-worked counterattack in which Reid found Demarai Gray, and the former Everton mam swept a pass across the 18-yard yard box for the towering Nicholson to finish from close range.

However, their celebrations were short-lived, as Canada regained the advantage on aggregate soon after when Davies served up a cross for Kone to steer past Blake.

Still, the Jamaicans pressed and got the golden opportunity to not only pull level, but more importantly go ahead on the away goal rule, when Stephen Eustaquio handled an intended cross from Lowe inside the danger area. Reid stepped up to take the pressure-packed 12-yard kick and calmly converted to silent the home fans, while the small section of Jamaican supporters went into frenzy.

From there, Jamaica only needed to defend their lines and if that wasn't pressure enough, given their tendency to concede late goals, the task became even more difficult when Gray was shown a second yellow and given marching orders in the 84th minute.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Boyz managed to absorb all that Canada threw at them in the final minutes plus nine minutes of added time to snare a momentous victory.

 

United States are through to the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals, despite a 1-2 defeat to Trinidad and Tobago in their League A second leg quarterfinals encounter at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, on Monday night.

While the result will serve Trinidad and Tobago well going forward, it is United States that have much to celebrate as the 4-2 aggregate scoreline, also secured their spot in next year's CONMEBOL Copa America.

Trinidad and Tobago will next contest the Concacaf Nations League Play-In. The winner of each Play-In, will also qualify for the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024.

Fresh off his one goal, one assist performance in the first leg, Antonee Robinson was back on the scoresheet and gave the United States an 25th-minute lead, when he got on the end of a Sergino Dest cross and headed into net.

However, United States were later reduced to 10 men when Dest picked up a pair of yellow cards in less than a minute in the 39th and was given marching orders.

With the numerical advantage in their favour, Trinidad and Tobago certainly made it count, as Reon Moore outmuscled off a defender in the 18-yard box and fired home to put the Soca Warriors back on level terms in the 43rd minute.

The momentum was squarely with Trinidad and Tobago and the home side took a 2-1 lead in the 57th courtesy of screamer from Alvin Jones on a free kick that gave United States goalkeeper Matt Turner no chance at a save.

Trinidad and Tobago remained on the front foot and continued to create chances, but United States were resolute in defence and kept the hosts at bay.

PANAMA vs COSTA RICA

Panama also punched their ticket for the semi-finals and Copa America following a 3-1 triumph over Costa Rica in their second leg League A quarterfinals at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City.

With the result, Panama topped the two-legged series 6-1 on aggregate.

Costa Rica, like Trinidad and Tobago, will contest the Play-In for another shot at CONMEBOL Copa America qualification.

Despite entering the encounter with a handsome three-goal lead, Panama were in no mood to relent as they took the lead in the 20th minute when Jose Fajardo fired home, after Michael Murillo's effort was initially blocked by Costa Rica's goalkeeper Kevin Chamorro. That took Fajardo's tally to three straight in CNL matches against the Ticos.

It was all Panama from there, and Jose Rodriguez gave the home fans another reason to cheer mere minutes later. He finished off a stinging a left-footed effort from la distance in the 24th.

The host added a third before halftime when Edgar Barcenas converted a 43rd-minute penalty, after Rodriguez was fouled just inside the area.

Costa Rica tried to make some inroads in the second half and pulled one back in the 52nd. Joel Campbell's free kick was expertly headed in by Francisco Calvo.

But there was nothing more in it for Costa Rica, as Panama's wide margin allowed for free and patient football to see off things.

England boss Gareth Southgate says he can “take far fewer gambles” with his Euro 2024 squad compared to the previous two tournaments.

Next year’s competition will see a return to relative normality after the delayed, Covid-impacted Euro 2020 and an unprecedented winter World Cup in Qatar.

Increased 26-man squads were introduced for both of those tournaments, but UEFA has confirmed the size of selections will return to 23 players in Germany.

“It makes it a different sort of thought process because you’ve had that leeway in the last couple of tournaments to take players that weren’t going to be fit for the first couple of games,” England boss Southgate said.

“Or a bit of cover in certain positions that you might or might not have needed.

“This time the physical conditioning of players is going to be really important. The ability for players to bat out six, seven games.

“We know having been to the end of two tournaments that physically the demands on that is far greater than we would have known had we not been through that experience, so we know that is a huge requirement.

“If you can only sort of take two for each position, players that are adaptable are helpful, players that can play more than one position are helpful.

“But equally players that are physically vulnerable we will have got to think very carefully about.”

The enlarged selection at Euro 2020 helped Southgate include Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire. The former had not played since the February due to groin surgery and the latter missed six weeks with an ankle injury, returning to action in England’s final group game and going onto be earn a place in the team of the tournament.

As for Qatar, Southgate was able to include Kyle Walker and Kalvin Phillips despite a lack of fitness following groin and shoulder surgery respectively.

Asked if players needed to be fit to be on the plane to Germany, he said: “I wouldn’t say all 23.

“But we can take far fewer gambles than we were able to take for the last two tournaments where it was 26.”

Long-serving number one Jordan Pickford is sure to be a key part of the squad next summer and is away with England at a time when his club side are in the headlines.

It was announced in the hours before Friday’s 2-0 win against Malta that Everton had been deducted 10 points after being found to have breached Premier League financial rules.

“I haven’t spoken to Jordan about it,” Southgate said ahead of Monday’s final Euro 2024 qualifier away to North Macedonia.

“The rest at the minute is speculative, so we’ll just have to see as and when anything happens.

“He has coped really well with a couple of really difficult seasons at Everton, where they’ve been in the lower reaches of the league.

“So, if the ultimate decision is as has been said – I am guessing there will be some sort of appeal – then it’s a scenario he’s been through and actually been a really important player for.”

Thierry Anthony bagged a brace which assisted Bonaire to a 3-0 victory over Anguilla in their Concacaf Nations League Group A, League C encounter at the Raymond E. Guishard Stadium in The Valley, Anguilla on Saturday.

With the win, Bonaire moved to six points from three games, still three points behind leaders St Martin. The two will meet in the group finale on Tuesday, with Bonaire needing to win by a wide margin if they are to take top spot and promotion to League B.

Bonaire could not have asked for a better start, as they took the lead in a mere three minutes, as Anthony deflected a cross in from the right wing.

Anthony doubled Bonaire's lead three minutes later when he converted a penalty, after Jonathan Libania was taken down in the area.

Anguilla's defence did a nice job to deny Bonaire any further goals at that point, as they created several good chances.

At the other end, Anguilla also found some rhythm, but nothing that got past Bonaire's goalkeeper Denyor Cicilia.

Anthony was denied a hat-trick in the 64th when he was played in but was denied on the reaction save from Anguilla's custodian Jelanie Lawrence.

Anthony instead assumed the role of playmaker and crafted the third Bonaire goal by whipping in a cross from the right flank that was stabbed home by Freadyen Michiel in the 73rd to cap the win.

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