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Mexico misery for jittery Jamaica

BLOCKED: Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos, right, attempts to score but is blocked by Jamaica's Adrian Mariappa (PA)

A SECOND half close-range header from Aldo De Nigris’ proved decisive in a tight contest that Mexico won against Jamaica 1-0.

Last night’s defeat in Kingston, left the majority of the 35,000 supporters crestfallen.

The loss also leaves Jamaica firmly rooted to the bottom of the World Cup qualifying group with six more matches to contest.

Although it was a slender defeat, it is not all doom and gloom – Reggae Boyz coach Theodore Whitmore has the opportunity to immediately bounce back when the USA come to town to play in the National Stadium on Saturday.

Yet it was only Jamaica who had themselves to blame for tasting another defeat.

The defensively minded Whitmore opted for a 4-1-4-1 starting formation in a bid not to lose the tie. But this backfired on his side after the lively El Tri finally broke the deadlock on 48 minutes.

A telling Carlos Salcido cross was pumped into the box with De Nigris giving veteran shotstopper Donovan Ricketts no chance and leaving the home defence flat-footed.

Whitmore’s troops needed to fight back, but failed miserably. Javier Hernandez forced an excellent save out of Ricketts on 62 minutes and had the Manchester United hot-shot scored then it would have been game over.

Hernandez netted both goals in Friday’s 2-2 friendly with Nigeria and although he was hungry for more was kept in tow by the defenders – the only positive aspect of a disappointing display by the Boyz.

This scare signalled a new formation to be installed as an injection of life was needed if the Boyz were going to battle back. Whitmore knew that the vocal supporters were screaming for a goal so gambled with a double substitution just a minute later in a bid to add overdue verve, purpose and a two-pronged attack.

Striker Jermaine Beckford replaced industrious midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson and Darren Mattocks took over the mantle upfront from lone forward Ryan Johnson.

But Mexico continued their powerful runs and counterattacks to leave the Boyz chasing shadows as well as an equaliser.

The hosts lacked firepower with Beckford disappointing in his third outing in a Jamaican shirt, although the Huddersfield Town player has yet to play a full 90 minutes at international level, and he failed to even create a goal-scoring opportunity.

Mattocks was also kept under wraps by the El Tri backline, and his sole effort was a 71st minute shot from the left side of the box that was saved down low by Jose de Jesus Corona.

Jurgen Klinsmann brings his USA side to the National Stadium on Saturday, which should in theory be a trickier tie than Mexico although the Boyz did cause a sensation by beating the Americans 1-0 in the third round of qualifying – courtesy of a strike from Luton Shelton, the all-time top scorer for the Boyz.

Whitmore, disappointed with no victories in four qualifying matches and severely lacking a potent striker, said: “Everyone knows the Mexicans and the Americans are the toughest in CONCACAF. But no one comes to Kingston and gets anything easy.

“We need to be fast, powerful and switched on for the full 90 minutes. We know what we have to do, and we know how important it is to pick up the three points.”

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