Jamaica has one more Caribbean Cup hill to climb

Dane Richards (yellow jersey) and host Jamaica will face Trinidad & Tobago in the Caribbean Cup final on November 18, 2014, in Montego Bay.

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Though Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer has claimed not to feel any pressure throughout the Caribbean Cup, he must have experienced a sense of urgency against Haiti in Sunday’s Group B decider.

After all, if the Reggae Boyz wanted to reach the final for a fourth time in their last six attempts, they had no choice but to win.

The tournament host was – in a sense – obligated to deliver the goods in front of its own supporters at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

A draw would have sealed second place and a berth in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, while a loss – depending on the final score – could have meant complete elimination.

All doubts were banished within the opening 20 minutes as Simon Dawkins (13’) and Darren Mattocks (20’) netted early en route to a comprehensive 2-0 victory.

“We had to win, while Haiti lose and go down,” said Schafer.  “Haiti wanted a draw, that would be good enough for them (to advance to the final), but I know in their heads it was a problem.”

Maybe Jamaica was lifted by the large crowd or the Haitians were possibly experiencing fatigue from contesting a third match in just five days, but the five-time Caribbean champion bolted out of the gate with purpose.

“For us it was the mentality,” Schafer noted.  “We know when we go 100% with good discipline we can win and we won.”

The second half became a tactical battle.  Jamaica wanted to defend its lead, while the Haitians kept pushing forward, hoping to earn a place in their first final since winning the 2007 title.

An injury to high-scoring Kervens Belfort damaged Haiti’s cause, but it was awarded a penalty kick in the tense final minutes.  Goalkeeper Andre Blake, however, was up to the dramatic task and saved Emmanuel Sarki’s attempt.

"I think it was just one of those games when a team is chasing they are going to take more risks, so we just had to defend tight as a unit and that's what we did,” team captain Rodolph Austin added.

In addition to seizing Caribbean bragging rights, Tuesday’s final against Trinidad & Tobago will earn the winner a place in the 2016 Centennial Cup America.

“I am very happy and everybody is happy, but the tournament is not finished,” Schaefer concluded.  “We have one match more.”