It may have been many games too late, but Jamaica ensured their unsuccessful 2022 World Cup campaign did not end without a home win to celebrate and ensure their record home unbeaten record against Honduras remains intact.
The Reggae Boyz closed out the final round with a 2-1 win over Los Catrachos tonight at the National Stadium, giving interim head coach Paul Hall his first victory since taking over the team in December.
As Honduras took the lead with an 18th minute penalty from Angel Tejeda, first-half goals from Leon Bailey in the 39th minute and Ravel Morrison second minute from the first stoppage halves were enough for their first victory at the national stadium.
In Hall’s final game of the cycle, he pitched Bailey who didn’t play in Jamaica’s 4-0 loss to Canada on Sunday. Homegrown players Atapharoy Byrgrave and Nicholas Nelson who started in that loss were dropped, with Hall returning to the majority of the squad that started against El Salvador last Thursday.
With their last home winning opportunity of the campaign, Jamaica started brightly from kick-off as Bailey managed to get into shooting position but the shot sailed high.
Even with a brilliant start, Jamaica were warned minutes later of the danger the opposition may present as Kevin Maldonado crossed on the right side but his shot went wide.
While Jamaica had their opportunities, Honduras managed to enter the game as the first half progressed, having more possession and getting behind the Jamaican defence.
They would capitalize on that pressure in the 18th minute after Jamaica was called for a handball inside the box with the help of a video assistant referee (VAR) review.
Despite a fine effort from Blake, Tejeda dispatched the kick to the top left corner to take the lead. The Jamaican attack stagnated despite some attempts to get behind the Honduran defence.
It wasn’t until the 39th minute that the Reggae Boyz had their own chance to restore parity from the spot as Jamaica were awarded a penalty when Wesly Decas brought down a Jamaican player in the box. Bailey calmly headed home for his first goal of the campaign, reinvigorating the massive home support that had been nervous for most of half-time.
At half-time they would have more reason to celebrate as Bailey’s corner found Morrison who came in from close range for his first international goal since switching sides two years ago.
The second half started with Jamaica looking for the third from the restart, but the perfect finishing pass to unlock a pressured Honduras side never came.
Midway through the second half, fans at the stadium held their collective breath when Daniel Green received a straight red for what was initially ruled to be an elbow on a Honduran player. But VAR would come to his rescue and the decision was overturned in favor of a yellow card.
While Honduras had their moments to equalize late, the Jamaican defense held firm. The local public finally had something to celebrate.
Jamaica finished the campaign in sixth place with 11 points.
Andre Blake (C), Adrian Mariappa, Gregory Leigh, Richard King (Alex Marshall 82nd minute), Jamoi Topey (Tarick Ximines 70′), Damion Lowe, Devon Williams, Ravel Morrison, Leon Bailey, Daniel Green (Lamar Walker 68′) , André Gray (Atapharoy Bygrave 82′).