Photo: Goal scorer, Maria Torres brings the ball under control while under pressure from Kishawna Robinson in the top of the table clash between Cuba and Jamaica in the CFU Women's Challenger Series at the Waterhouse Stadium. Cuba won the game 1-0 courtesy of the lone strike from Torres.
A 61st minute strike Maria Torres from was enough to secure a 1-0 win for Cuba over Jamaica in the final Group B game of the CFU Women’s Challenger Series at the Waterhouse Stadium on Sunday. The victory for Cuba also gave them group honours with a maximum six points from two games played. Jamaica finished runners-up with three points after they had beaten bottom of the group Barbados 3-2 on Friday. Barbados finished without a point after losing the first game of the series to Cuba 7-0.
The 1-0 score line was a reflection of a keen and engaging contest between the two teams who were using the tournament as preparation for World Cup qualifiers next month. The teams were guilty of missing a number of chances with Jamaica being the guiltier of the two.
The Reggae Girlz could have taken the lead from as early as the 2nd minute when Shantel Bailey ran on to a flicked header behind the defence from Sherice Clarke but she shot straight at the Cuban goalkeeper and captain Lucylena Rodriguez while on the run.
Both teams enjoyed periods of dominance on the ball without creating any real openings until close to half time.
The Cuban team displayed patience on the ball playing it around in order to find spaces while the Jamaicans adopted a more direct style of play on the counterattack.
The second clear chance for the home team came two minutes before half time when Lotoya Duhaney broke down the right flank and centred for Clarke whose tame effort was easily held by Rodriguez.
Cuba then had their first opening but a lobbed effort from Rachel Ellis was easily caught by Chris-Ann Chambers on the line. The Jamaican captain was again called into action moments later and she got down smartly to her right to turn a goal bound shot from Ellis around the right post for a corner kick.
Chambers had to be alert to leave her lines and save at the feet of Torres to keep the scores level at half time.
Jamaica began the second half much the same as they did the first when 2 was sprung loose behind the Cuban defence but her effort was more of a pass than a shot to the Cuban custodian.
Bailey then had another chance to get on the score sheet but she too fluffed her lines as she shot high from just inside the area after being played in by Duhaney.
A few minutes later Davia Smith and the Jamaican fans were left scratching their heads after her header from a corner kick somehow failed to cross the goal line.
Clarke then came the closest for Jamaica as her shot from the edge of the area hit the crossbar and went behind for a goal kick.
The Cubans were riding their luck and would eventually go ahead when Torres reacted quickest to a loose ball in the box after Chambers made another brilliant save from a corner kick. The tournament’s leading scorer was left alone inside the box and she hooked the ball home to give her team the 1-0 lead.
Jamaica kept pressing for the equalizer but would have no luck as the Cuban defence stood firm for the remainder of the game.
Head coach Andrew Price believes inexperience cost his young team the victory on Sunday.
“I bring it down to a little inexperience, we have a squad of 20 players, 11 of them, the first time they are donning the yellow shirts for Jamaica. I think they put in a creditable performance and if we were a little bit more clinical in front of goal in the first half, we should have really gone into the half time with a sizable lead.”
A few of the local based players who were involved in the series will head off to Florida at the end of the month where they will meet up with overseas based players for a training camp ahead of the qualifiers in Haiti.