• Reggae Boyz look to overturn another Central American curse • Coach still has hopes of turning campaign fortunes
IF THE Reggae Boyz are to mount a late comeback in their World Cup qualifying campaign they will have to once again break a losing trend in a Central American country.
Jamaica will face Panama this evening at 6:05 at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City, clinging to a glimmer of hope of a fourth-place spot with five games left.
With games running out, Jamaica will need to mount a win against a team they have struggled against both at home and in Panama City.
The Reggae Boyz have never beaten Panama away in a World Cup qualifier dating back to 2004, only managing two draws and one loss. However, they were in a similar situation last October against Honduras and managed to pull off their first win in San Pedro Sula.
For similar fortunes to happen against Panama, interim head coach Paul Hall says they have to make use of their moments with the ball better than they did in their 2-1 loss to Mexico, having only 24 per cent of possession.
“One of the things that I spoke to the players about is when we win the ball back, let’s keep it a little bit better and let’s try to build and let the other team run around a little bit. Because it’s not fun in humidity chasing the ball around and when you get it you give it back to them. It could be a long evening,” Hall said.
FOCUS ON 3 POINTS
“I just feel we need to not pay Panama as much respect as we probably did the Mexicans and focus on getting three points back. I think that’s more important than anything else.”
Panama defeated Jamaica 3-0 in their first meeting of the campaign on September 5. However, Los Canaleros lost ground in a 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica in San Jose on Thursday, a result that Hall says keeps them in the hunt.
“Everyone believed after the Mexico game that the results would go against us and we were out of it. But the results went for us. If you look at the permutations of what can happen in the next few games, Costa Rica now needing to go to other places and win, the teams at the top doing so well, then we have a chance,” Hall said.
The Reggae Boyz will be without defender Damion Lowe who is suspended after being sent off in the Mexico game. Cavalier defender Richard King replaced him in the squad and is one of the options to replace Lowe in the starting 11.
“King did so well in the Peru game. That’s why he is here and he deserves to be here. I’m not afraid to use anyone in this group because we might need to use them,” Hall said.
“Yes, we have to replace Damion but it’s based on what we want to get out of the game. The perfect person will fit that bill.”
Jamaica are in sixth place with seven points, seven points adrift of fourth-place Panama, who are on 14, and five points away from fifth-place Costa Rica, who are on 12 points.
The top three teams qualify for the World Cup.