Canada defeated Jamaica 2-0 in the international friendly match played at BMO Field Stadium in Toronto last Saturday to avenge its quarter-final loss to the Reggae Boyz at the ’17 Gold Cup. Jamaica came into the game after a tremendous run-up to the Gold Cup final before falling 2-1 to the United States.
Ironically, the September game in Toronto was set before the two countries played each other in the exciting quarter-final match where Jamaica breathed a sigh of relief with a 2-1 lead at the final whistle.
Heading into BMO field, Canada supporters were hoping that their team would maintain the momentum with which the team ended its quarter-final match when they were in search of the tying goal.
Reggae Boyz ‘s followers, on the other hand, were confident that their team would have been more greatly motivated while enjoying the support of their largest group of fans in North America based here in Toronto.
Clearly, it was Canada’s coach Octavio Zambrano who won the tactical battle that allowed Canadian supporters to celebrate when forward Anthony Jackson-Hamel and Jonathan Osorio provided all the game’s scoring for a 2-0 victory to the home team.
The city of Toronto has turned into a soccer town with the atmosphere at BMO Field. As the home field of Toronto FC, the stadium is also home for the Number One fans in the MLS with the Reds team currently sporting the best record in MLS.
The Jamaica-Canada friendly match attracted the second largest crowd to watch Canada men’s national team at BMO Field in 21 years where a record for tickets sales on game day was established.. This is incredible when rain was in the forecast and the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers were televised.
When asked whether his team was ready to compete against the current teams in the final Hexagonal round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Zambrano responded, “We are not far. We are not far,”
With a decent W3-L1-T2 record after winning his sixth against Jamaica, Zambrano is anxious for more games. “I want our guys to face that type of competition as often as we can.” he said. “Talent is not the issue,”
“We need to face Mexico more times…..to face the U.S. ….. go down and play Costa Rica, Honduras in their fields……. and the top teams from South America. ………“I think we’re on the right track.” he concluded.
The Canadian team, playing with confidence, seemed to be enjoying their assignments based on their runs off the ball and into spaces. Jamaica was good in spurts but many of their better moments ended badly – with terrible shots and/or loss of possession from long passes.
Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore and the Reggae Boyz have to commit to improving their ball possession to be more dominant and get to the next level. It is the deficiency in ball possession that allowed Canada to score both goals.
Canada’s second goal came when team Captain Atiba Hutchinson intercepted a pass to start a dismantling process that ended with Osorio celebrating his second international goal to make it 2-0. The man of the match was the artful Cardiff City winger Junior Hoilett who carried over his form from the quarter-final.
Team captain Hutchinson played 64 huge minutes to earn him his 78th cap and a tie with Mark Watson for fifth on Canada’s all-time men’s list. The only negative moment of the match was when Canada’s teenage sensation Alphonso Davies was shown a straight red card in the 76th minute. Six minutes after entering the game, he kicked out at a Jamaica defender when he was hard tackled and became tangled with the defender while on the ground.
In CONCACAF 2018 World Cup qualifying update, Mexico clinched a spot to World Cup Russia while Trinidad and Tobago as the Caribbean last hope has been eliminated. The Soca Warriors lost 2- 1 against Honduras last Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Trinidad and lost 3-0 away to Panama.
With 2 games remaining, Mexico has accumulated 18 points with Costa Rica, 15, Panama, 10, USA, 9, Honduras, 9 and Trinidad and Tobago, 3.