KINGSTON, Sporting Alert – It was supposed to be easy. A cake walk some would say. But it was far from it, as Jamaica were stunned 3-2 by Nicaragua in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifier at home on Friday.
The Reggae Boyz who finished runner-up to Mexico at the summer CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, went into Friday night’s contest as the heavy favourites to see off Nicaragua, despite playing without a few regulars.
However, things started poorly for the Jamaicans in the World Cup Third Round playoffs first leg tie and didn’t get any better, as they struggled to get past the Nicaragua goalkeeper Justo Lorente until it was too late and fell to a shocking defeat.
Nicaragua took the lead in the fifth minute when they were awarded a penalty kick for a handball inside the area.
Manuel Rosas stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and send confidence into the life of the visitors.
Three minutes later it was 2-0, as Jamaica, playing a high-line, was caught out by Carlos Chavarria, who smashed home past the keeper to stunned the 20,000 home supporters in the stand at the National Stadium in Kingston.
Two minutes into the second the Reggae Boyz fell even further behind, as another poor piece of defending saw an unmarked Luis Manuel Galeano side-footing home from close range to make it 3-0 for the lowly Central Americans.
Striker Darren Mattocks pulled a goal back for Jamaica in the 69th minute when he shuffled his way into the 18-yard box before finishing into the bottom right corner with a side-footed shot.
Adrian Mariappa then collected another goal for the Jamaicans in the 78th minute when he tapped home from close range after a scramble inside the box when Nicaragua failed to clear a ball played in from a corner kick.
The Reggae Boyz pushed for another goal but came up short, which means they will have it all to do in the second leg and needing to score two goals.
The return tie will be played on Tuesday with the winner advancing to the Fourth Round to join Costa Rica, Panama, and the winner of the clash between Haiti and Grenada in Group B.
In other CONCACAF World Cup Third Round Qualifiers, Canada beat Belize 3-0, Antiqua and Barbuda edged Guatemala 1-0, Grenada fell 3-1 to Haiti at home, Curacao stunned El Salvador 1-0, while St.Vincent and the Grenadines defeated Aruba 2-0.