By Aldwyn McGill
It is the rematch of this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter final game that left both coaches wanting a better finishing performance from their teams. Even with territorial advantage, Canada could not capitalize until it was too late and Jamaica 2-1 lead almost evaporated after absorbing sustained pressure in the final minutes.
With the battle set to resume in Toronto, many fans say they are not too worried if the game does not live up to the dramatics of the Gold Cup. However, they are looking forward to watching the game in the “enjoyable atmosphere ” at the BMO Field Stadium.
Canada and Jamaica are two of my three favourite teams in CONCACAF and I am pleased with the direction they are taking by bringing in younger players while still trying to maintain a competitive edge. However, Canada Coach Octavio Zambrano knows that his home field advantage is at stake.
“When we play at home, we want to play good football and we want to pick up from where we left off at the CONCACAF Gold Cup,” said Zambrano.
“We want to continue to build on what we have established at the CONCACAF Gold Cup and that will happen every time we get together.”
A key addition to Canada’s midfield for this game is Brampton’s Atiba Hutchinson. He will be making his first appearance under coach Zambrano .
Hutchinson is a five-time Canadian Player of the Year and he has can play a significant role against Jamaica; He led Beşiktaş JK to back-to-back Turkish Süper Lig titles and consecutive qualifications to UEFA Champions League.
Jamaica will more than likely win the battle of the wing back positions which means that Canada midfielders will have to pick their spots to try and surgically disassemble the proficiency of the Jamaica defense. However, that is no easy task because of the Reggae Boyz team speed.
However it was one of just a few Jamaica defensive lapses that allowed David “Junior” Hoilett to unleash a beauty of a shot beyond the outstretched hands of Jamaica superman goalkeeper Andre Blake to break the shutout. And Hoilett is approaching this game with confidence and looking forward to start a scoring streak against Jamaica.
“I’m excited because it’s going to be a great game,” said Hoilett, “It’s going to be my first time playing at home, so it will be a great feeling for me to go out and show my place in my home city.”
Also anxious to see what he has learned from the last encounter is Canada 17-year old sensation Alphonso Davies. Jamaica gave him little or no room to operate and tackled him hard when he eluded one defender. The Reggae Boyz was a rude awakening for the young Davies. However, he still managed to finish the tournament as the Top Scorer and Best Young Player at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The upcoming game marks the sixth international match between Canada and Jamaica in Toronto, with the most recent meeting a Canada 3:1 win on September 9th, 2014. The two sides have also faced each other four times in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the two sides winning two matches each.
Canada overall international record in 2017 is three wins, three draws, and one loss in seven matches. Under new head coach Octavio Zambrano, Canada’s international record is two wins, two draws, and one loss in five matches
Jamaica’s 2017 record stands at four wins, two draws, and four losses which included a run to the CONCACAF Gold Cup final where the Boyz was defeated 2-1 by USA in a hard fought battle.
Jamaica is scheduled to play an international friendly against Trinidad and Tobago on August 24.The game will be played at the Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain where Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore will take a look team at mostly local players from Jamaica. The Soca Warriors under head coach Dennis Lawrence is using the game as preparation for their next match is on September 1st against Honduras in the Hexagonal round qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Need tickets for Canada-Jamaica game Call Aldwyn @ 416-526-3436
(Aldwyn McGill is the publisher of Stars Soccer Review Magazine.)