Action from the World Cup qualifier between host Jamaica (yellow jersey) and Panama on November 13, 2015, in Kingston. (Photo: LMA Action Photos)
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica finds itself in an unusual situation.
It has played four CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, winning both away matches, while losing the pair played at home.
If history tells us anything, those outcomes should be reversed, especially since Jamaica has traditionally been considered difficult to beat at the National Stadium.
When the Reggae Boyz return to fourth-round play against Costa Rica on Friday, their aim is to make “The Office” a fortress once again.
“We want to put on a performance and get three points at home,” said defender Adrian Mariappa, who scored in a 2-3 loss against visiting Nicaragua in a third-round encounter last September. “We definitely want to put on a performance for the fans. We’ve got a tough away fixture next, so this home game will be very important.”
Jamaica (1W-0D-1L, 3 points, GD-1) currently sits third in Group B on goal difference after a 0-2 loss at home to Panama (1-0-1, 3, +1) and 1-0 win on the road against Haiti (0-0-2, 0). The Costa Ricans (2-0-0, 6) top the table with maximum points from two games.
It is clear that if the Jamaicans can start acquiring home points, the pressure of performing away could be alleviated somewhat. Defender Wes Morgan, who is riding a wave of momentum with the English Premier League leader Leicester City, takes a slightly different approach. He’ll be happy to secure any points that are available regardless of a game’s location.
“We want to win every game, but unfortunately, that’s not possible,” said Morgan, a calming and influential team leader. “As long as we keep picking up points, at home or away, that’s the most important thing.”
Jamaica and Costa Rica will also meet on March 29 at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose.