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Resilient Reggae Boyz hold World Cup-bound South Korea

PICTURED: Malique Foster (Photo credit: Ricardo Makyn)

MALIQUE FOSTER'S 72nd-minute strike was enough to earn the Jamaica a creditable 2-2 result against South Korea at the virtually empty Mardan Sports Complex in Antalya, Turkey on Tuesday (Jan 30).

The Reggae Boyz stormed into a 4th-minute lead courtesy of Dane Kelly, only to be hit by two goals in a nine-minute second half spell from lively Kim Shin-Wook.

But it was supersub Foster, the strong number nine, who popped up to ensure that the Boyz return from the scenic south coast of Turkey with an unbeaten record from their two friendlies.

Kelly's goal, set up by Ladale Richie, got the Boyz buzzing. He outwitted the close marking of the defender with composed control before he picked his spot from inside the area to beat stunned keeper Kim Seung-Gyu.

The strike was such sweet revenge for Jamaica, who were appalling when they suffered a hefty 3-0 friendly reversal to South Korea in Seoul in October 2015.

The Boyz held their own against the World Cup-bound Koreans, nicknamed the Taeguk Warriors, to head into the interval with a deserved lead.

The superior technical ability of the Koreans shone through after the turnaround, with Jamaican working hard and often scrambling in defence to fend off the danger of an equaliser.

It was only a matter of time before Theodore Whitmore's troops would concede as the swiftness of breaks often perplexed the Boyz.

Ten minutes into the second half unmarked number nine Shin-Wook was gifted a header past impressive shotstopper Amal Knight, who stood no chance with the effort close to the six-yard box.

And the towering figure of Shin-Wook put the Koreans into the lead, again left unmarked in the box, with a glancing header on 63 minutes.

Despite the Koreans dominating play and possession, the never say die attitude instilled into the Boyz allowed them to push forward in search of a goal.

And perservance paid off on 72 minutes when Foster, their weekend goal-scoring hero against Romanian top-tier team CS Gaz Metan, found the top corner with a long-range effort.

For the second match on the bounce it was a goalkeeper's heroics that staved off defeat. Substitute keeper Shaven Paul having to dive to his left to save a shot that came as a result of his misplaced pass.

The Taeguk Warriors are paired with Germany, Mexico and Sweden in Group F at the 2018 World Cup finals on Russia, whilst the ever-improving Boyz are building up for the 2018 CONCACAF League of Nations.

JAMAICA: Knight (Paul, 83mins) - Lawrence (Lawes, 83), Francis, McCarthy, Richie, Fisher - Morris (Hardware, 57), Watson, Williams (Shaw, 83) - East (Foster, 57), Kelly. Subs: Marshall, Marsh, Gordon, Brown.

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