KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica are celebrating their tenth entry into the prestigious CONCACAF Gold Cup after a narrow one-nil win over Suriname at the National Stadium on Sunday.
The Reggae Boyz third round victory over Suriname in the CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup also gave them the Group 1 title and earned them a place in the semi-final stage of the competition.
Cory Burke converted the winning goal in the 16th minute after receiving a pass from Owayne Gordon from the left side of the box.
“Qualifying for the Gold Cup was a priority. As a new player in the national program, my aim is to try getting more games and getting on the plane to the Gold Cup is next on my agenda,” said Burke, who opened his goal-scoring account against Guyana in Jamaica’s 4-2 extra-time victory in Guyana last month.
“I believe we played well as a team, but we can still improve on our finishing. I am sure in time all things shall fall into place”.
Despite the lost, runner-up Suriname remains in contention for a Gold Cup berth, but will have to contest a playoff between three of four best second-place teams.
Jamaica, the defending champions, played most of the match with only 10 players after defender Damion Lowe was shown a red card for violent conduct.
“We kept calm despite being a man down. There were a few tense moments, but I made it clear to my backline that victory is a must and even if we had nine men, we had to remain composed and secure the win,” said Jamaica goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake.
“This is a delight for us and we dedicate this win to the fans and now we concentrate on 2017 with the (Caribbean Cup) semifinals and the Gold Cup down the road.”
Jamaica’s head coach Theodore Whitmore, said extensive work was done in preparing goalkeepers and midfielders and as such he was always confident of victory.
“I feel we were prepared. Our goalkeeping coach Warren Barrett worked on penalties with the keepers. I worked on the passing with the midfielders, so going into this game we were confident,” said Whitmore, the only person to win the Caribbean Cup as a player and a head coach.
“It was all about execution. We accomplished our goal and now we turn our attention to a busy 2017.”
Curacao, French Guiana and Martinique have already secured Gold Cup spots, while the Caribbean’s last possible berth will be decided in a round-robin playoff between Haiti, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago – three of the four best second-place sides.
The Haitians captured second place in Group 2 with a 2-0 extra time win over host St. Kitts & Nevis at Warner Park Stadium, also on Sunday.