A bitterly disappointing result for the Reggae Boyz as they fell 0-1 to Paraguay at the Estadio Regional Calvo y Bascuñán on Tuesday. Here’s a look back at what happened…
In his pre-match press conference, Jamaican assistant coach Miguel Coley had called Tuesday night’s meeting with Paraguay “the hardest game that we have” following defeat to Uruguay in Jamaica’s opener. A great opportunity to pick up three points and climb up Group B was squandered on a bitterly disappointing evening in Antofagasta. Jamaica huffed and puffed but their performance wasn’t of the same quality that it was three days previously and Paraguay ran out deserved winners. I offer some plus points in the wake of this defeat, identifies weaknesses that need working on and rates the players.
Reggae Boyz captain Rodolph Austin was superb, having the most touches (74) and making the most passes (55) out of his teammates. He was typically industrious and hard working in the middle, cutting out opposition attacks and helping out defensively. Je-Vaughn Watson, who arrived in Chile a day before kick-off against Paraguay, complemented Austin and covered a lot of ground too. But it was the former Leeds United man who really stood out, and in truth he very rarely has a bad game in a Jamaican jersey. Another positive is that Jamaica were able to build up more momentum this time. On Saturday night, the final 15 minutes were very disjointed and stop-start. But the Boyz really threw everything they had at Paraguay – who were camped in their own half for much of the latter stages – but in the end it simply wasn’t enough. If they had played with the same intensity in the first 45 then perhaps it would have been a different story. Indeed, this is a highly optimistic approach, but Jamaica could yield something from playing Argentina. They’re not completely down and out just yet. It’s highly doubtful that Argentina will slip up, however, they failed to beat Paraguay and only narrowly beat Uruguay. Winfried Schäfer’s men cannot give up and have a negative mindset: they have to still believe even if things haven’t quite fell for them.
Jamaica struggled to create chances. They managed just five shots – nearly half of what they produced against Uruguay – and only one was on target which was a long-range daisy-cutter from Kemar Lawrence. That was the team’s solitary effort in the first half as they seemed to lack intent and confidence going forward. Simon Dawkins drove one over eight minutes after the restart, Garath McCleary’s fierce strike was a whisker away and two headers were missed in the dying minutes, first from Wes Morgan and then substitute Darren Mattocks. Yet, weirdly, Jamaica actually engineered more shots against the defending champions, so their performance deteriorated in this regard. Paraguay, on the other hand, enjoyed plenty of chances throughout (15) with the likes of Víctor Cáceres, Raúl Bobadilla and veteran striker Roque Santa Cruz getting involved. Giles Barnes was selected as the main striker, replacing Mattocks, with Dawkins employed in behind. Those two didn’t click – Barnes is more of a No 10 and isn’t as effective leading the line. Jobi McAnuff was very quiet out on the left wing as he found it difficult to impose himself and reach the byline while McCleary offered more of a spark, completing the most dribbles out of any player from either team (3). Jamaica failed to maintain possession for large periods, which is partially attributed to Paraguay’s energy and willingness to close down, and they were generally wasteful when they had it. Only Lawrence, Watson and Austin scored over 75% on passing accuracy. Could they have prevented Paraguay’s goal? Yes. It was extremely unfortunate and freakish but why on earth was Duwayne Kerr so far off his line in the first place? There was no need to be in that position. Easy to say in hindsight, of course, but he really should have directed his header left or right and not down the middle because the goalscorer Édgar Benítez was there ready to pounce. Lawrence tried his best to recover the ball but it was too late. To ultimately lose the game on that moment is particularly disappointing.
Credit to the ‘Copa America 2015′ YouTube channel.
Duwayne Kerr – Caught in no-man’s-land for goal. Made wrong decision to come out prematurely but was unlucky the way ball flew in. Had very little to do for remainder of that second half.
Adrian Mariappa – The Crystal Palace player’s attacking impact was more limited, managing only one cross, and Paraguay’s speed on the wings caused him problems.
Michael Hector – Given a good game by Roque Santa Cruz. Tried to instigate attacks from deep, playing 13 long balls yet only 3 were accurate.
Wes Morgan – Kept busy throughout. Saw his header sail over in the 89th minute.
Kemar Lawrence – Had Jamaica’s only attempt on target but Paraguayan custodian Antony Silva was equal to it. Known in the team for his long throws, he took 16 altogether but they didn’t have desired effect.
Rodolph Austin – Man of the Match by some distance. Courageous, dogged and made some great interceptions. Quality of delivery from set-pieces still lacking at times.
Je-Vaughn Watson – Missed Uruguay game but straight into the side next to Austin in midfield. Drew the most fouls out of any player on the pitch (5). Kept things simple.
Garath McCleary – Enjoyed bright spells but didn’t see enough of the ball. Went on a wonderful run, past three or four defenders, but final ball wasn’t there. Nearly scored from long-range.
Jobi McAnuff – Drifted inside in order to get more involved. Spent more time tracking back and helping out Lawrence down the left hand side than attacking the full-back.
Simon Dawkins – Found it hard to find those small pockets of space in between the lines. Not in sync with his strike partner.
Giles Barnes – Saw very little action, having least touches out of any starting player (20). Won four aerial duels yet those headers were flicked on, with no teammate gambling or running in behind.
Subs: Laince Laing – Possibly even warranted a starting berth after his impact against Uruguay. Tidy in possession and a lovely crosser. Deshorn Brown – Replaced Barnes as the leading striker but struggled to impose himself. Darren Mattocks – Managed three touches in 10 minutes on the field, one of them was header which should have hit target.
It’s the classic David and Goliath contest. Argentina possess an embarrassment of riches up front and if Lionel Messi decides to turn up and play, then there’s very little any country can do, let alone Jamaica. Schäfer’s men will need a significant upturn in form to get anything out of this game, but they must not approach it with trepidation or a defeatist attitude. They must believe.
By Nathan Carr