Jamaica wrapped up their Concacaf World Cup Qualifying campaign for Qatar 2022 with a comeback 2-1 victory over Honduras on the 14th and final matchday of the Third Round of CWCQ on Wednesday night at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

Honduras enjoyed the better start of the two sides and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 18’. 

After a VAR review, the referee ruled there was a penalty for Honduras and Angel Tejeda stroked home the spot-kick to give the Catrachos the advantage.

Jamaica looked to get back on level terms and they would get the 1-1 equalizer in the 38’ with a penalty conversion from Leon Bailey.

The momentum was with Jamaica and the Reggae Boyz took their first lead of the contest just moments before the halftime whistle with Ravel Morrison burying a shot off a corner kick to make it 2-1 to the home side.

Jamaica aimed to extend their advantage in the second half, while Honduras tried to find a way back on even terms, but in the end, no goals could be found in the second 45 minutes, as Jamaica saw things out to collect the three points.

Mexico have all but secured qualification for the World Cup after a 1-0 away win over Honduras on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Costa Rica's 2-1 win in El Salvador earlier in the day meant Mexico could not immediately join Canada in sealing their spot in Qatar, but victory on the road means El Tri are on the brink.

With the top three CONCACAF sides gaining automatic qualification, third-placed Mexico sit three points clear of Costa Rica and have a four-goal advantage, meaning only a defeat at home to El Salvador on Wednesday and a significant goal swing will put Tata Martino's men in trouble.

Mexico had 70 per cent possession in the first half against Honduras but failed to create any clear-cut opportunities.

They upped the intensity after half-time, with Hector Herrera, Jesus Corona and Hirving Lozano all creating chances in the first 10 minutes.

Edson Alvarez eventually found the breakthrough in the 70th minute, heading in from Herrera's corner.

With Costa Rica playing second-placed USA in their final qualifying game, even a draw against El Salvador will see Mexico through to their eighth consecutive World Cup.

Interim Reggae Boyz Head Coach Paul Hall has named a 24-man squad for the final three FIFA World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador, Canada and Honduras.

The United States took a big stride towards 2022 World Cup qualification with three set-piece goals in a 3-0 victory over already-eliminated Honduras in freezing Minnesota on Wednesday.

Weston McKennie, Walker Zimmerman and substitute Christian Pulisic netted the goals as USA moved to 21 points from 11 games, rebounding from their 2-0 loss to Canada last time out as they chase qualification for Qatar 2022 after missing out four years ago.

The victory was crucial for second-placed USA to move clear of the chasing pack, with third-placed Mexico to host fourth-placed Panama later on Wednesday.

The temperature dropped to minus 18 degrees in the first half with players from both sides permitted to wear full overhead balaclavas and hand warmers.

Juventus midfielder McKennie opened the scoring with an eighth-minute near-post header from Kellyn Acosta's free-kick, before Nashville defender Zimmerman bundled home a second in the 37th minute from a set piece.

McKennie and Timothy Weah almost combined for a third in the 50th minute only to be thwarted by substitute Honduras goalkeeper Edrick Menjivar.

Chelsea star Pulisic was introduced in the 64th minute and scored three minutes later, volleyed home a loose ball from a corner after Zimmerman's knockdown. Pulisic also had a late goal disallowed for offside.

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe has expressed delight with opening his goal account for the Reggae Boyz after finding the net in a 2-0 win over Honduras but believes the team started gathering momentum in the previous match.

The Rangers striker found the back of the net, for a Jamaican team desperately in need of a win, in the 36th minute after successfully deflecting an attempt from strike partner Shamar Nicholson.  A defender, Oniel Fisher, scored the team's second in the second half.

The goal was the first for Roofe in four matches, having started the last two.

“It’s a special moment for all of us, getting my first goal for my country.  I want to dedicate this to my dad, he is the reason I am playing for Jamaica,” Roofe said.

“It was massive for the team to get the three points.  I think it all stems from the game against Canada.  We didn’t get the three points but we got the draw and we came out of that game with solidarity and belief and a lot of respect as well and we brought it into tonight’s game.”

The Reggae Boyz battled to a 0-0 draw with Canada at the National Stadium on Sunday.  The win sees Jamaica move to five points and 6th position, three points outside of the fourth spot, which is currently occupied by Panama.

The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will be without two key members of the squad heading into Wednesday’s crucial qualifier against Honduras with both defender Alvas Powell and forward Jamal Lowe ruled out of the encounter.

Powell, who started but did not finish Sunday’s encounter against Canada, has been diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring strain and will not be able to take part in the match against Honduras.  Typically deployed at right-back, Powell began the game at centre back. 

Regular last man Damion Lowe had been ruled out of the counter based on an accumulation of cards.  Lowe will return to the line-up for the upcoming encounter.

Meanwhile, Lowe will be returning to Championship club AFC Bournemouth based on an agreement ahead of the qualifying round.  The player started against the United States and came off the substitute’s bench against Canada.

With just two points from their first five matches the team currently sits at the bottom of the table, Honduras who are also yet to secure a win are one point above the Jamaicans in the standings.

Mexico moved top of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a comprehensive 3-0 defeat of 10-man Honduras on Sunday. 

It was not a routine fixture for Mexico, who lost at home to Honduras during qualifying for the 2014 and 2008 World Cups, but El Tri were up to the challenge at Azteca Stadium. 

The victory put Mexico on 11 points through five matches, three points clear of the United States and Panama after the USA's shock defeat in Panama City earlier on Sunday.

Sebastian Cordova opened the scoring in the 18th minute, driving home a shot from seven yards out with Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez out of position after a scramble around the goal. 

Four minutes into the second half, Honduras saw any realistic hopes of a comeback dashed when Maynor Figueroa drew a straight red card for a challenge on Raul Jimenez.

Rogelio Funes Mori provided a welcome cushion in the 76th minute, collecting a rebound from an Edson Alvarez shot that went off the post and driving it home for Mexico's second goal. 

Hirving Lozano sealed the win 10 minutes later as Mexico poured it on through the final whistle on the road to Qatar 2022.

 

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

Defender Liam Moore and forward Shamar Nicholson have overcome injury concerns to be included in a 23-man Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad for the upcoming round of qualifiers.

Moore, who plies his trade for English club Reading, was a serious doubt after suffering a bad-looking ankle injury a few weeks ago, with Nicholson suffering a fractured jaw while in action for Belgian side Charleroi.  Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey has, however, not recovered in time for the matches and will miss his second round of matches.

Queens Park Rangers forward Andre Gray and Bournemouth’s Jamal Lowe have been recalled to the squad, with in-form West Ham forward Michail Antonio also called back to the squad, after a difficult debut against Panama.

The Jamaicans will resume their campaign with matches away to the United States at home to Canada and away to Honduras.  Unlike the previous round, however, the squad should not be impacted by UK coronavirus travel rules, with none of the countries listed on the red list.

Full squad:

Andre Blake

Dillon Barnes

Dennis Taylor

Damion Lowe

Adrian Mariappa

Liam Moore

Ethan Pinnock

Alvas Powell

Oniel Fisher

Kemar Lawrence

Javain Brown

Daniel Johnson

Devon Williams

Je-Vaughn Watson

Bobby Reid

Junior Flemmings

Kemar Roofe

Jamal Lowe

Tyreek Magee

Michail Antonio

Javon East

Shamar Nicholson

Andre Gray

 

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is set to miss the country's next set of World Cup qualifiers after being diagnosed with a thigh strain.

The 23-year-old winger made a lively appearance for Aston Villa last weekend, playing an active role in two of the team’s three goals in a 3-1 win over Everton.  Among them was a net-busting volley to goal, which punctuated a quick counterattack.

Unfortunately, the player had to be substituted soon after but it was hoped that he would not miss much time off the pitch.  However, the club manager Dean Smith recently confirmed that the player would be out of action for the next few weeks.

"Leon has a strain which is likely to keep him out until after the international break," Smith told reporters.

 "We would be hopeful that he would be available for the Wolves game, but we'll need to assess him nearer the time and see how he progresses over the next 10 days or so."

Jamaica will resume its World Cup qualification campaign next month, with matches away to the United States, at home to Canada, and away to Honduras.  The player also missed out on the first round of the qualifiers with an injury last month.

The Jamaica international joined Villa from Bayer Leverkusen earlier this summer from a reported 25 million pounds ($US34m), is targeting a return to action against Wolverhampton Wanderers on October 16.

The United States scored four unanswered goals in the second half to celebrate their first victory in 2022 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a 4-1 rout of Honduras.

CONCACAF Gold Cup and Nations League champions the USA had drawn their opening two fixtures on the road to Qatar 2022 but goals from Antonee Robinson, Ricardo Pepi, Brenden Aaronson and Sebastian Lletget kick-started their campaign.

After cancelling out Bryan Moya's 27th-minute opener, the USA are third in the Octagonal standings, level on five points with Canada and Panama, and two points behind leaders Mexico.

Honduras went into the match having not beaten the USA since their 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory in 2013.

But Honduras took the lead approaching the half-hour mark thanks to a diving Moya, who glanced a header beyond USA goalkeeper Matthew Turner on Wednesday.

The USA lacked any real purpose or drive in the first half, but they emerged with renewed vigour in the second half – the visitors restoring parity within three minutes courtesy of Robinson's volley following a goal-mouth scramble.

Never in the USA's history had they drawn three consecutive matches – dating back to 1916 – and avoided doing so as teenage sensation Pepi's header gave the visitors a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes remaining.

Aaronson put the result beyond doubt in the 86th minute before Lletget's goal in the third minute of stoppage time sealed a 12th successive game without defeat under Gregg Berhalter.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

Real Madrid winger Takefusa Kubo was on target again as hosts Japan eliminated France from the Tokyo Olympics men's football tournament with a 4-0 win on Wednesday.

Kubo netted in Japan's first two Group A games and gave Madrid another reminder of his quality by opening the scoring against France in Yokohama.

In doing so, the 20-year-old became the first Japanese player to score in each group-stage match at the same Olympic tournament.

Hiroki Sakai doubled Japan's lead prior to half-time before Koji Miyoshi and Daizen Maeda completed the rout, either side of Randal Kolo Muani being sent off.

Japan advance as the only side with a 100 per cent record, whereas France – who had Timothee Pembele and Andre-Pierre Gignac in their line-up – are out at the first stage.

Only Fiji (23 in 2016) and Serbia-Montenegro (14 in 2004) have let in more than the 11 goals France conceded at Tokyo 2020 in the 21st century.

"The tournament was really difficult for us, because we are young players and these are the first games we have played with the team," France midfielder Alexis Beka Beka said. 

"One of the big differences was the other teams knew each other much better. But it's all about the details. The game is never finished."

Mexico recovered from their loss to Japan last time out by beating South Africa 3-0 in a game in which both sides had a player sent off, seeing them through in second place ahead of France.

 


SPAIN MATCH CLASS OF '92

Spain were not perfect in the pool phase, having been held for the second time in three games in Wednesday's clash with Argentina, but they still went through as Group C winners.

It is the first time La Roja have achieved that feat at the Olympic Games since the likes of Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique went on to win gold in Barcelona in 1992.

Spain dominated possession against Argentina and took the lead through Mikel Merino's 66th-minute strike at Saitama Stadium.

Tomas Belmonte's late equaliser came against the run of play, but it was not enough to prevent 2004 and 2008 gold medallists Argentina crashing out early on.

London 2012 quarter-finalists Egypt finished level on four points with Argentina after beating Australia 2-0 and progress to the last eight, where heavyweights Brazil await, by virtue of a superior goal difference.

HISTORIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR OLYWHITES

New Zealand picked up the point they needed against Romania in a goalless draw to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time.

Goalkeeper Michael Woud redeemed himself for his horror show in the loss to Honduras by making a string of stops against Romania, who would have advanced with a win.

"It really came down to desire tonight," said OlyWhites head coach Danny Hay. "The boys really dug deep and showed a lot of that.

"I'm really proud of the performance. It's historic and we look forward to a quarter-final for a New Zealand men's team."

New Zealand also needed a favour from South Korea, who followed up a 4-0 win against Romania with a 6-0 victory over Honduras on Wednesday en route to topping Group B.

Hwang Ui-jo scored three of the goals, two of those from the penalty spot, and a showdown with Mexico is up next for rampant South Korea for a place in the semi-finals.

RIO FINALISTS GERMANY FALL SHORT

Germany will not get the opportunity to match or better their silver medal from Rio in 2016 as a 1-1 draw with Ivory Coast saw their opponents through at their expense.

Nothing less than a win would do for Stefan Kuntz's men but they fell behind to a Benjamin Henrichs own goal with 67 minutes played.

While Eduard Lowen's impressive free-kick did set up a tense finish in Miyagi, Germany were unable to find a winner and are on the plane home.

Ivory Coast will now take on Spain, the last European nation standing, in the quarter-finals.

Also through to the knockout stage are reigning champions Brazil after seeing off Saudi Arabia 3-1, with Richarlison's late double adding to Matheus Cunha's first-half opener.

France got the better of South Africa in a seven-goal thriller as Andre-Pierre Gignac's hat-trick inspired Les Bleus to a 4-3 victory at the Tokyo Olympics.

Having been thrashed 4-1 by Mexico in their opening game of Group A, France hit back to keep their chances of progression alive, though they had to do so the hard way in Saitama.

Indeed, South Africa led on three occasions during a remarkable second half, yet it was Les Bleus who took the points.

Liberato Cacace's stunner was not enough to propel New Zealand to victory against Honduras in Group B, while reigning champions Brazil could only draw 0-0 with the Ivory Coast and Spain overcame Australia thanks to Mikel Oyarzabal's late winner.

 

GIGNAC AND SAVANIER SETTLE THRILLER

France were on the wrong end of conceding four last time out, and though they still let three in this time around, Teji Savanier's stoppage-time goal saw them clinch victory.

It was 35-year-old Gignac who had previously dragged France level on three occasions – a close-range finish followed by a thumping header before the Tigres striker, the leading scorer in the competition, converted his second penalty of the tournament to cancel out Teboho Mokoena's glorious 81st-minute strike.

Luther Singh had missed a first-half penalty for South Africa, with Kobamelo Kodisang and Evidence Makgopa also getting on the scoresheet.

But Gignac's efforts set the stage for France to nose themselves ahead when Montpellier's experienced Savanier lashed home, sending South Africa out in the process.

France sit third in Group A, three points behind leaders Japan, who survived a late scare to beat Mexico 2-1.

ALL WHITES LET LEAD SLIP

Cacace's exceptional strike put New Zealand ahead after just 10 minutes in Kashima – the defender picking out the top-right corner with a first-time effort from 30 yards out.

Luis Palma restored parity in first-half stoppage time, yet Chris Wood carried on his scoring form to put New Zealand back in front just after the restart.

Yet substitutes proved the difference for Honduras. Juan Obregon netted with 12 minutes remaining, paving the way for Rigoberto Rivas to clinch the comeback victory.

Matters were much more simple for South Korea, as they cruised to a 4-0 triumph against Romania, meaning all four Group B teams are on four points heading into the final matchday.

 

OYARZABAL RECORDS LONG-AWAITED SPAIN WIN

Spain secured their first win at an Olympic Games since 2000 thanks to Oyarzabal's header against Australia, which came with nine minutes of normal time remaining.

The 24-year-old Real Sociedad winger – who played a pivotal role in Spain's run to the semi-finals at Euro 2020 – has put La Roja top of Group C heading into Wednesday's encounter with Argentina, who beat Egypt.

Spain, who drew with Egypt in their opener, won gold in 1992 and silver in 2000, but had only qualified once since then, but they failed to score across their three appearances in the 2012 London Games.

CHAMPIONS HELD AS GERMANY BOUNCE BACK

Brazil sparkled in their 4-2 win over Germany on matchday one, though they could not find a way past the Ivory Coast, who held them to a 0-0 draw in Group D.

Douglas Luiz was sent off early on for Brazil, who missed a last-gasp chance to seal qualification through substitute Malcom after the Ivory Coast had also been reduced to 10 men.

Meanwhile, Germany recovered from their defeat on matchday one to beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 – Felix Uduokhai netting the decisive goal in the 75th minute.

Mexico fired in three first-half goals to book their spot in the Gold Cup semi-finals with an emphatic 3-0 win over Honduras in Glendale on Saturday.

The holders dominated proceedings, marked by a 12-minute flurry of goals, and were good value for the win, with 13-4 shots and 64-36 per cent possession.

Rogelio Funes Mori, who netted a brace in El Tri's 3-0 group win over Guatemala, opened the scoring in the 26th minute, nodding in Luis Rodriguez's right-flank cross.

LA Galaxy midfielder Jonathan dos Santos doubled Mexico's lead in the 31st minute with a spectacular first-time volley.

Orbelin Pineda added another seven minutes later, heading in Jesus Corona's well-weighted cross.

Mexico will face either Costa Rica or Canada in the semi-finals on Thursday, with Qatar progressing in Saturday's other quarter-final 3-2 over El Salvador.

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