KINGSTON – Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz did what they had to last night at the National Stadium to beat Antigua and Barbuda by at least a two-goal margin.
With big help from the United States, who hammered Guatemala 3-1, Jamaica claimed their place in the six-nation CONCACAF Finals for 2014 World Cup by finishing second in Group A semi-final competition with 10 points and a superior goal difference to Guatemala.
Dane Richards (78th, 88th) netted a second-half double as the Boyz delivered big time at ‘The Office’ with a 4-1 victory over Antigua. Demar Phillips (17th) and Nyron Nosworthy (18th) were the other scorers. Quintin Griffith (61st) was on target for Antigua and Barbuda.
Jamaica entered the game with seven points and a zero goal difference, while Guatemala and the United States, who kicked off simultaneously in Kansas City, had 10 points and similar plus-three goal differential. For Jamaica to advance, it meant one had to lose and the corresponding scores add up to give Jamaica a superior goal difference over the loser.
The United States’ win pushed them to 13 points and top of the group, while Jamaica and Guatemala ended on 10 points. Only the top two qualify, and they will play the other top two qualifiers from groups B and C to earn a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. That competition will be played from February to November next year and the top three will automatically win a place in Brazil. The fourth-place team will play off against the Oceania champion for another spot.
Jamaica dominated their do-or-die match from start to finish and would have won by a much wider margin with better finishing. Jamaica forced their opponents right back against their goal as Jermaine Hue, who gave a domineering performance all night, pulled the strings.
Meanwhile, Canada’s hopes of reaching the World Cup finals ended in abject humiliation after they were destroyed 8-1 by Honduras.
Victory in Honduras would have secured a place in the final qualifying round for Stephen Hart’s Canadian side but instead they headed home after one of the darkest night’s in their soccer history.
Canada, who last appeared at the World Cup finals in 1986, were 4-0 down by the 32nd minute and the final score was almost as bad as their 8-0 loss to Mexico in 1993. Honduran strikers Jerry Bengston and Carlos Costly each claimed hat-tricks in the rout in San Pedro Sula.