Players from Nicaragua (pictured) demonstrate the emotions produced from a draining World Cup Qualifying series against Jamaica. (Photo: www.pinolerosports.com)
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua was minutes away from booking a historic first trip to the group stage of a World Cup Qualifying cycle, when Simon Dawkins struck for visiting Jamaica, giving it a 2-0 win last Tuesday.
Although the 4-3 aggregate setback may have stung, Nicaragua head coach Henry Duarte was proud of his side, which went a perfect 5-0-0 in its previous five qualifiers.
“We lacked for nothing,” said the 56-year-old Costa Rican. “All of the players that entered the pitch did well. We faced a national team that had a lot of bite; that made us pay the price internationally. They beat us on two set piece situations.”
The Pinoleros gave evidence throughout the competition of making real progress. They were hoping to continue the process with at least six more competitive games against some of CONCACAF’s best in the fourth qualifying round, the competition’s first group stage.
“I feel sad, not because we lost,” Duarte expressed. “It’s sad for football because in such little time we managed to break down barriers. It hurts to me to be out.”
In addition to building a roster for success on the field, the WCQ campaign generated unprecedented fan support. A capacity crowd of 18,000 was in attendance on Tuesday at the Estadio Nacional.
“I want to give thanks to the fans because we had that encouragement and support at all moments,” Duarte finished. “Many thanks for all of the cheering. I know that they deserved other things.”