Ruled out before the start of the tournament as possible winners, the rank outsiders Jamaica, will take on former champions Mexico, in the finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup at the Lincoln Financial Field starting at 6:30pm local time.
Jamaica has already surpassed their best achievement in previous competitions, when they qualified for the final following their historic 2-1 win over the USA in the semi-finals on Wednesday. They will look to continue the Cinderella story but claiming the scalp of another CONCACAF giant in the already sold out stadium in Philadelphia.
Mexico has won the competition on nine previous occasions and with history on their side, will believe that win number 10 is within their grasp. Forward Andres Guardado with his five goals, has almost single-handedly taken Mexico to the finals, while proving that he has nerves of steel, scoring three times from the penalty spot in the quarter and semifinals combined.
There must be cause for concern for Mexico however, as they have failed to put away any of their opponents convincingly as the competition has gone on. A 4-4 draw with Trinidad and Tobago in their last group game, was followed by a last minute extra time penalty to see off Costa Rica in the quarter finals.
Another questionable penalty against Panama kept them alive in the semi-finals in a game they trailed 1-0, before a second penalty saw them finally secure their spot in the final.
Jamaica began the tournament with a 2-2 draw against group favourites Costa Rica before securing three back to back 1-0 wins, including a quarter-final win over Haiti to set up the clash against the USA. The game against the US was arguably the best display by the Boyz under Coach Winfried Schafer and the confidence and team spirit was there for all to see.
Boasting the meanest defence in the competition, the Reggae Boyz goes into the final with nothing to lose but all to play for, and with confidence and swagger continuously displayed by an overachieving but well deserving unit.
The striking pair of Giles Barnes and Darren Mattocks will prove a handful for a shaky Mexican defence while Jamaica’s almost imperious defence will believe that they have what it takes to keep the Mexicans off the scoresheet. The central midfield pairing of Je-Vaughn Watson and captain Rodolph Austin has provided excellent protection for the back four and it will be interesting to see who starts in goal today with Dwayne Miller available.
There is an old adage that says, goals win games but defence wins championships. Jamaica has shown repeatedly that they can get it done at both ends of the field and if they can get it right one more time in this competition, they will write one of the most famous pages in the history of the nation’s football.