JAMAICA’S REGGAE Boyz secured promotion to League A of the CONCACAF Nations League (CNL) after seeing off Antigua & Barbuda 2-0 on Friday night (November 15).
Goals each half, from Maalique Foster and Ricardo Morris respectively, dismissed the hosts at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound.
Head coach Theodore Whitmore, criticised for uninspiring play throughout their CNL campaign, experimented with his line-up and resorted for a 4-3-2-1 formation as they made it five out of five wins. Yet it was far from a five-star display.
Shotstopper Amal Knight was given a rare run-out, protected by central defenders Damion Lowe and Adrian Mariappa, Damian Francis at left back and Alvas Powell slotting in as a free-running right back.
Although the starting midfield was attack-minded – Foster, Je-Vaughn Watson and Chavany Willis – Bobby Reid and Morris sat behind lone target man Shamar Nicholson.
The Boyz were not back to their best by banging in the goals, having bagged 18 goals in their opening four CNL League B games on Group C – which included six against Antigua & Barbuda at Montego Bay in September – they could only muster a pair. Foster opening the scoring on 34 minutes and Morris doubling their tally on 58 minutes.
The Boyz were denied an 11th-minute lead after Lowe’s header from Foster’s corner was ruled out for his foul in the build-up.
Reid, back in the squad following a two-game absent through injury, fluffed his chance 10 minutes later when through on goal.
Foster initiated his strike, picking out Powell whose snapshot was parried by keeper Molvin James, and stabbing hike from close range for the lead.
The Benna Boys had two opening half attempts, both screwed off target, courtesy of D’Andre Bishop and Tevaughn Harriette.
Nicholson picked out Morris on the left, and his thunderous shot sealed the contest, grabbing his first goal since his brace against Bonaire on October 2018.
With the Boyz having already secured their 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup berth by topping the Group, the real focus now for Whitmore is the 2022 World Cup qualifiers after they close out their current CNL campaign on Monday (November 18) against Guyana at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.