W/C Corner: Shamar grabs lifeline for off-tune Reggae Boyz, as Mexico, Canada and USA make early runnings

Eh? So is that what all the fuss was about?

Jamaica Men’s National Senior Team head coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore might have suffered a severe case of buyer’s remorse in the opening match window of Concacaf’s Octagonal 2022 World Cup qualifying round.

Photo: West Ham star forward Michail Antonio debuted for Jamaica on the weekend… we think!

Coveted West Ham United forward Michael Antonio made his international debut with the ‘Reggae Boyz’ in Kingston, Jamaica on 5 September, but you would have needed a copy of the team list to be sure.

The end result was a crushing 3-0 loss against Panama for an anonymous Jamaica team, and really you’d expect to get something from a home game against any Central American team that isn’t named ‘Costa Rica’ if you seriously harbour intentions of pressing for a World Cup place.

But just as Jamaicans were shouting ‘ras clat’, Kingston-born flanker Shamar Nicholson grabbed a crucial late equaliser in San Jose yesterday, as the Boyz—minus their England-based contingent—held Costa Rica 1-1 for their first point of the qualifiers.

One point from three games is not nearly enough to get excited about and leaves Jamaica bottom of the eight-team standings. But maybe it will serve as a reminder to Tappa that the Boyz were not half-bad before their latest round of invites to second generation ‘Yardies’.

Work on that combo, Tappa. You’re only facing the United States next. Away! No pressure!

Photo: Lively Jamaica attacker Shamar Nicholson got goals against Mexico and Costa Rica in this match window and shouldn’t need to sound like a James Bond villain to get into the Jamaica’s starting team next month.

At the other end of the table, the Mexico players were walking on sunshine with two wins and a draw from their three outings—a home triumph over Jamaica, and a win and tie away to Costa Rica and Panama respectively.

The results put ‘El Tricolor’ two points clear atop the standings as they lead Concacaf’s four undefeated teams with seven points.

Canada, paced by the free scoring Cyle Larin, are in joint second along with USA, who managed two goals in this match window from 20-year-old Brenden Aaronson. Aaronson, a Red Bull Salzburg attacker, has been nicknamed ‘Medford Messi’ by Austrian football fans.

Time will tell whether Austria football fans just need to get out more.

Honduras were one goal up at halftime against USA at San Pedro Sula yesterday and somehow contrived to lose 4-1 to the ‘Yanks’, with three goals coming in the last 15 minutes. However, the Hondurans—like El Salvador—can still take heart from draws in their opening two fixtures.

Costa Rica have a pair of draws too to go along with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico at home. At this rate, ‘Ticos’ captain and goalkeeper Keylor Navas might have more to worry about than Italian custodian Gianluigi Donnarumma breathing down his neck at PSG.

Photo: US attacker Brendon ‘Medford Messi’ Aaronson takes on Canada defender Mark-Anthony Kaye during World Cup qualifying action on 5 September 2021.
Aaronson scored in a 1-1 draw for USA. But could he shine on a wet Tuesday in Couva? Hmmm…

Concacaf World Cup Octagonal

(2 September 2021)

Canada 1 (Cyle Larin 66 pen), Honduras 1 (Alexander López 40 pen) at BMO Field, Toronto;

Panama 0, Costa Rica 0 at Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City;

Mexico 2 (Alexis Vega 50, Henry Martín 89), Jamaica 1 (Shamar Nicholson 65) at Estadio Azteca, Mexico City;

El Salvador 0, United States 0 at Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago flanker Ross Russell Jr (right) makes a desperate, lunging tackle at Mexico attacker Jesús Corona during 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup action in Arlington on 10 July 2021.
Corona rescued a point for Mexico yesterday with a late goal away to Panama.
(via Concacaf)

(5 September 2021)

Jamaica 0, Panama 3 (Andrés Andrade 14, Rolando Blackburn 39, Cecilio Waterman 82) at Independence Park, Kingston;

El Salvador 0, Honduras 0 at Estadio Cuscatlán, San Salvador;

Costa Rica 0, Mexico 1 (Orbelín Pineda 45+1 pen) at Estadio Nacional, San José;

United States 1 (Brenden Aaronson 55), Canada 1 (Cyle Larin 62) at Nissan Stadium, Nashville;

Photo: Boom! Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson (left) is in a good mood as he celebrates his goal with teammate Richie Laryea during a 3-0 rout of El Salvador in Toronto on 8 September 2021.
(Copyright Canada Soccer / Martin Bazyl)

(8 September 2021)

Canada 3 (Atiba Hutchinson 6, Jonathan David 11, Tajon Buchanan 59), El Salvador 0 at BMO Field, Toronto;

Panama 1 (Rolando Blackburn 28), Mexico 1 (Jesús Corona 76) at Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City;

Costa Rica 1 (Jimmy Marín 3), Jamaica 1 (Shamar Nicholson 47) at Estadio Nacional, San José;

Honduras 1 (Brayan Moya 27), United States 4 (Antonee Robinson 48, Ricardo Pepi 75, Brenden Aaronson 86, Sebastian Lletget 90+3) at Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano, San Pedro Sula.

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