To think about the football history of Jamaica can hardly get out of France 1998the only World Cup presence of the so-called Reggae Boyzbeaten by Daniel Passarella’s Argentina 5-0 with two from a devilish Burrito Ortega and three fierrazos from Batistuta, both at the peak of their careers. Or perhaps memory also echoes Bob Marley’s well-known sympathy for the round…
But this Tuesday’s game (from 21, by TyC Sports) between Argentina and Jamaica in New Jersey it will already be the fourth of his history and, furthermore, it may not be as accessible as the one from more than two decades ago… At least there are some elements so as not to trust too much. Mainly because Jamaica will have the debut of a new manager: Heimir Hallgrímsson. A name that says little or nothing, but a nationality that surely awakens memories.
Hallgrímsson, from ice to sand
Hallgrímsson was the one who led Iceland to its first World Cup, that of Russia 2018, where against any type of forecast it took a 1 to 1 to Argentina of Sampaoli in the debut. Agüero’s first goal in World Cups (after the drought of 2010 and 2014), striker Finnbogason’s instant equalizer and pass to the immortality of the filmmaker/goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson for saving Messi’s penalty In the second half. A first step that predicted the progress of those led by Sampaoli in one of the worst World Cup performances in the history of the National Team.
That was the only point that Iceland got in Russia (0-2 with Nigeria and 1-2 with Croatia) and Hallgrímsson immediately moved to Qatar to test the cheap honeys of the local league. Until 2021 he was at Al-Arabi -club where Batistuta retired in 2005- with more defeats than victories in two and a half years in charge.
Finally, after a gap year, Hallgrímsson took over the reins of the Jamaican national team about a month ago. That is to say, from the extreme winter to the Caribbean heat… An inverse relationship to that of the story popularized by the 1993 film, jamaica below zero.
The Argentina-Jamaica history
The first confrontation between Argentina and Jamaica on a soccer field was the one mentioned in 1998, for the second date of the World Cup in France. La Albiceleste came from suffering to beat Japan in their debut (1-0, goal by Bati) while the Reggae Boyz had come out with their heads held high from their duel against Croatia (defeat 3-1, but 1-1 at halftime ), which would later be third in the Cup. And with the festival 5-0, the National Team (formed with Roa; Sensini-Ayala-Chamot; Zanetti-Verón-Almeyda-Simeone; Ortega; Batistuta-López) secured their classification to the round of 16.
But they were not all pale for that Jamaica, led by the Brazilian René Simoes and who had a couple of figures in defender Frank Sinclair (Chelsea) and striker Deon Burton, at the time compared to Ronaldo, but for aesthetic qualities. on the last date had the pleasure of beating none other than Japan (2-1) and you can say that you have the honor of having a victory in the greatest event in football.
The following evenings against Jamaica were not so comfortable for Argentina. In a friendly match in 2010, a few months before the World Cup, the local team commanded by Diego Maradona won 2-1 in Mar del Plata, with almost agonizing goals from Martin Palermo and Ignacio Canuto to turn history around. That team formed with Nelson Ibáñez; Market-Echeverría-Galeano-Monzón; Toranzo-Mercier-Acevedo; Pocho Insua; Palermo-Franco Jara.
Meanwhile in 2015, for the group stage of the Copa América played in Chile, was 1 to 0 albiceleste with Higuaín celebrating after a pass from Di María. Tata Martino put almost all of Sabella’s world runners-up on the field: Romero; Zabaleta-Garay-Demichelis-Rojo; Biglia-Mascherano-Pastore; Messi-Higuain-Di Maria. That Jamaica led by the German Winfried Schäfer was a tough rival to crack: Lost all three of their Cup matches, but all by 1-0 (against Uruguay and Paraguay, the others).
Premier League Attack
Independent in 1962 from the United Kingdom but still under English monarchy (that is, it has Charles III as king), Jamaica football grew hand in hand with British football. Consequently, many of his players are born in England but of Jamaican descent as were the cases of the aforementioned Sinclair or Burton, or as is happening now with several of their current figures: the historic West Ham striker Michail Antonio (64 goals in 238 games for the London club; he made his debut with Jamaica only in 2021 at the age of 31) or Fulham midfielder Bobby Reid.
Thus, of those summoned by Hallgrímsson to face Argentina, the majority are those who play in English football (four in the Premier League and five in promotion) and the American (four in MLS and three in promotion) .
The great strong Jamaican is on the attack with Antonio and Leon Bailey, striker for Dibu Martínez’s Aston Villa. The speedy winger born in Kingston 25 years ago was bought from Bayer Leverkusen in 2021 for €32 million and it is the great credit of his selection. Meanwhile, the 1.92-meter big man, Shamar Nicholson, who this year moved from Belgian Charleroi to Spartak Moscow for 8 million, also stands out.
Used to watching the World Cups on the screen, Jamaica is a regular opponent of teams that do qualify in the previous Cups. And as expected, most of the time it is thrashed: 0-5 with the United States in 2002; 0-5 with Australia, 1-4 with Ghana and 0-6 with England in the previous one of 2006; 0-2 with South Africa in 2010; 0-1 with Switzerland and 0-8 with France in 2014to name a few.
In any case, los Reggae Boyz They also have what are usually called bumps. In a friendly 2004 defeated Uruguay 2-0 at home with Diego Forlán and in 2016 they did the same and as visitors before the Chile of Medel and Alexis Sánchezwith a 2-1 victory in Viña del Mar. But apart from a few successes against the United States and Mexico, his biggest international surprise may be that of the 1998 Concacaf Gold Cup. Jamaica shared a group with the Brazil of Romario, Edmundo and Taffarel and took a 0-0 win to later win the zone. Later they met for third place and Mario Zagallo’s team won with a goal from Chapulín.
More here in time Jamaica complicated Qatar’s story with a 1-1 away win last monthwhile in June he repeated the scoring with Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League, although Tata Martino went to the meeting with a formation from the local league.
In the Qualifiers towards Qatar qualified directly to the final hexagonal of Concacaf thanks to its FIFA ranking (Canada, for example, had to play previous rounds) but could only draw as best result against regional powers: (1-1 at home and 0-2 at visitor against the United States; 1-1 in Costa Rica and 0-1 at home; 0-0 with Canada and 0-4 away; and both 1-2 with Mexico).
Finally, and if it serves as a reference, Jamaica won its last four matches against Honduras, the Argentine rival last Friday. With what is to be expected a somewhat more demanding test for those directed by Lionel Scaloni.