Sports

He's able

Jamaica rebound with 4-1 win over Japan in Toyota Unified Football Cup

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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CHICAGO, Illinois — Second-half substitute Tajae Able scored twice in the final 20 minutes to give Jamaica a 4-1 win over Japan in yesterday's Special Olympics Toyota Unified Football Cup match at the Fire Pitch.

Captain Moran Singh opened for Special Olympics Jamaica in the third minute of the 60-minute encounter at the facility's south field, before Clive Jarrett crashed in a stupendous effort to make it two-nil in the 20th.

Japan pulled a goal back thanks to Hikaru Kuroba's well-placed penalty kick on the stroke of half time, but Able made things safe for Jamaica in the 42nd and 50th minutes.

Jamaica move to second in the group with three points after losing 0-1 to Nigeria in their first-game of the tournament on Tuesday.

Nigeria stay top of the group with six points after sweeping to a 5-0 win over Italy at the north field yesterday. Japan and Italy both have a point after a nil-all result on Tuesday.

Jamaica face Italy in their final group game today at CIBC Fire Pitch, starting at 3:00 pm. Nigeria are to meet Japan in the other encounter.

Jamaica's Head Coach Shane Richards was elated with the team getting its first three points of the tournament, and noted that his players were better in front of goal as opposed to the game against Nigeria.

“We really feel good about this victory against Japan. Goals win games and I stressed that to them before the game. We didn't do anything different but to score the goals,” he told the Jamaica Observer during a post-game interview.

He said the Jamaicans made good use of their strengths against the battling Japanese.

“I spoke to the players about the advantage we would have with our height, speed and physical ability, and those helped us to take control,” Richards said.

Skipper Singh gave Jamaica a bullet start, latching onto a lobbed pass over the top of the Japan defence and deftly slotting past Japan goalkeeper Shota Ouchi.

Relaxed after getting the early goal, Jamaica managed prolonged possession, knocking the ball side to side and sometimes up into midfield and then back to their defensive players.

Skipper Singh, who was a danger much of the first half, almost scored a second, crashing an effort from the edge of the box onto the cross bar with Ouchi beaten.

Japan eventually made some forays into the Jamaican half, but those attacks were quickly extinguished by alert defenders.

At the other end Jamaica earned a two-goal cushion when industrious Jarrett picked up a ball near the centre circle and fired a 35-yard, right-footed blockbuster past the diving Ouchi and into the top right-hand corner.

Despite being dominated, Japan opened their account right on the 30-minute mark when Jamaican goalkeeper Shaquon Beckford fumbled a long-range free kick. Kuroba was first to the rebound and was knocked over as Beckford challenged him, forcing the referee to blow for an infringement in the box. Kuroba got up to side-foot a right-footer high to the left of Beckford.

The early part of the second half was scrappy with both sides unable to retain the ball or build flowing attacks. Desperate to get his team level, Japan's Shu Kuroba found space and slammed a left-footer from an angle but Beckford was well positioned to save comfortably.

Jamaica rediscovered their fluency and scored a third through a nifty build-up that resulted in Able, on the field just two minutes earlier, dribbling through on goal to roll his shot past the 'keeper.

With 10 minutes left, the speedy Able poked home from close range after Japan's defence failed to clear the danger.

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