The Reggae Boys let it slip late as Roldon rescues a point
Published on 13 November 2021
Michail Antonio centre is swarmed by team mates after scoring his first international goal for Jamaica against El Salvador in the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 in San Salvador, El Salvador on November 12 2021. (Photo: AP)
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (November 12, 2021)—Jamaica’s World Cup Qualifying hopes took a dent Friday night as they could only come away with a single point against El Salvador in the latest round of qualifiers for Qatar 2022.
With Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey making his much-anticipated debut for the Reggae Boyz, Theodore Whitmore’s men would have been looking for a welcomed cutting edge to the team’s attacking play. The match began evenly with both teams trying to impose their style of play and with Jamaica looking to exploit their speed and athleticism. El Salvador, meanwhile, took a more methodical approach.
Midway through the first, the Central American outfit began to establish more possession and, with more time on the ball, looked the likelier of the teams to score first. It soon became a battle of the number 17s in Jairo Henriquez and Damion Lowe. Much of El Salvador’s attack went through Henriquez but Lowe, son of former Reggae Boy star Onandi Lowe, got the better of Henriquez in their numerous one-on-one duels.
El Salvador thought they had the breakthrough in the 37th minute, but had two efforts hit the bar. First it was Alexander Larin’s long-range effort after a clearing header by the Jamaicans, and, in the ensuing penalty-area melee, Bryan Landeverde’s chipped attempt covered Andre Blake but couldn’t sneak under the cross bar. Jamaica could count themselves lucky on that occasion. The first half petered out, and the teams went into the half time interval deadlocked at 0-0.
The resumption brought with it a renewed vigor from the Central American outfit, obviously spurred on by the home fans. What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in enthusiasm and crowd noise. Buoyed by this, El Salvador began committing more bodies forward, and Blake found himself drawn into making a few smart saves in quick succession. Whitmore’s men opted to steam the tide by being more physical and employed some typical robust challenges to do just that.
Needing maximum points to keep hopes of a top four spot in the octagonal, Whitmore turned to his reserves, introducing Michail Antonio with the hopes of shifting the match in his favor. He didn’t wait long to receive dividends. A mere seven minutes after coming on, Antonio gave the Reggae Boyz the lead in minute 82. The West Ham man, on fire in the English Premiere League, notched his first goal for Jamaica in only his second appearance. Antonio chipped an advancing Mario Martinez after a brilliant solo effort saw him use his pace and power to shake off two defenders.
The Caribbean outfit seemed to be on their way to maximum points, only needing to see the remaining eight minutes of play. El Salvador had other plans in mind, however, and snatched a late equalizer from the unlikeliest of sources. Skipper Alex Roldon, fancied neither for his goal scoring acumen nor his aerial prowess, produced a perfect headed finish of the caliber that he would struggle to replicate again. It was Henriquez supplying the service for Roldon to rescue a point for the host
Team Jamaica will undoubtedly feel they let this one slip away and now sit sixth in the standings on a total of 6 points and El Salvador one place behind only on goal difference.