KINGSTON, Jamaica, Sporting Alert – After escaping what would have been an embarrassing exit in the last round, Jamaica will be hoping to make a better start when they resume their CONCACAF World Cup-qualifying campaign against Panama on Friday.
The Reggae Boyz needed to overcome a 3-2 deficit against Nicaragua in the last round and goals from Darren Mattocks and Simon Dawkins did the trick.
On Friday, Winfried Schafer side will look to take advantage of playing at home and start the opening round of the semi-final stage on a winning note against a Panama side that has not been in the best of form heading into this game as well.
“We have a very strong group — the strongest group in the qualification with Panama, Costa Rica and Haiti,” Schafer said in the Jamaica Observer.
“It will be very difficult, but we need everybody to concentrate 100 per cent on football. We have to be disciplined and then we can beat Panama,” he said.
After missing several key players for the two-way CONCACAF World Cup play-offs tie against Nicaragua, Jamaica should have a fully strengthened squad to face Panama, with the likes of Jobi McAnuff, Garath McCleary and Giles Barnes all expected to be in the starting lineup.
The other Group B game on the schedule for Friday is set for the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose, where Costa Rica will entertain Haiti and will start as the favourite to pick up all three points.
In other CONCACAF World Cup semi-final battles, Mexico play host to El Salvador at the Estadio Azteca, and Honduras travel to Vancouver to face Canada in Group A, while in Group C, St Vincent and the Grenadines will battle with the United States, and Guatemala welcome Trinidad and Tobago in Guatemala City.
6:30pm USA vs St. Vincent and Grenadines
8:00pm Guatemala vs Trinidad and Tobago
9:00pm Mexico vs El Salvador
9:00pm Costa Rica vs Haiti
9:00pm Jamaica vs Panama
9:15pm Peru vs Paraguay
10:00pm Canada vs Honduras