Reggae Boyz beat Honduras in CONCACAF Nations League opener

September 9, 2023  -Jamaica jumped to the top of the table in Group B of the CONCACAF Nations League A competition following a 1-0 win over Honduras inside Kingston’s National Stadium on Friday night.

Gray’s strike puts Jamaica top of Group B

England-born Demarai Gray notched the only goal of a poor rendition by the Reggae Boyz on his home debut to put Jamaica on top on the six-team points table after the opening round of games.

In the other two games in the group, Haiti and Cuba ended 0-0, while Grenada and Suriname ended 1-1. Jamaica leads the group with three points, with all the other teams on one point, except Honduras, who are at the bottom without a point.

In a game which lacked quality from both sides, especially the home side which repeatedly gave away the ball cheaply and often went to route one with aimless punted balls from the back, Jamaica managed to find the net midway the first half only for it to be ruled out for offside.

The Central Americans, strangely looking void of the usual aggressive, typical short snappy passing, tested Jamaica’s goalkeeper Jahmali White with a stinging shot from Luis Palma which was tipped over the horizontal in the only meaningful attack for the first 45 minutes.

At the other end Dujuan Richards struck an upright after he cut inside off the right side on the stroke of half time.

And with neither goalkeeper having much to do, Gray found the winner in the 64thminute when he latched onto a neat pass from Bobby Reid just beyond the halfline and he raced goalwards tracked by a defender but the former Everton front man who recently signed for Saudi Arabian side Al-Effifaq teased his way into the penalty box before rifling a shot past Edrick Menjivar.

It was his third goal for Jamaica from six international games.

Feedback from team Jamaica

Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson tried to put the game in context during a postgame press conference.

“I think there were many chapters in this game. I think there were some good spells and bad spells during the match. I think it was a good performance when we all added it together, but we can improve in defending and attacking, so it’s a lot of things we can work on but I love a 1-0.”

Gray appeared more measured in his comments.

“It was important that we got the three points because that’s all that matters in the end. It wasn’t the nicest game, credit to Honduras because they come and attacked and they made it aggressive, they made it difficult for us, but second half we come back together and we come up with a game plan… we have to be patient in these games and wait for the moments and luckily the moment fell to me and on this occasion I scored.

“I’m happy to be back home as well and to score in front of the fans was a great feeling, so most important we take the three points and now we look back at what we’ve done good, and what we’ve done bad and focus on the next game.”

Jamaica will next turn its attention to Haiti at the same venue next Tuesday at 7:06 pm (Jamaica time), before another two fixtures next month – away to Grenada on October 12, and away to Haiti three days later.

Teams                         P       W     D       L        Gf     Ga    Gd    Pts

Jamaica                       1       1       0       0       1       0       1       3

Grenada                      1       0       1       0       1       1       0       1

Suriname                    1       0       1       0       1       1       0       1

Cuba                           1       0       1       0       0       0       0       1

Haiti                           1       0       1       `0      0       0       0       1

Honduras                    1       0       0       1       0       1       1       0

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