Jamaica ends on a high note
2-1 victory over Japan lifts the Reggae Boyz
Posted: Saturday September 19, 1998 03:48 PM
Sweet music: Whitmore (right) scored two goals in a 14-minute span to lead Jamaica to its first World Cup win Stu Forster/Allsport|
LYON, France (CNN/SI)
-- For Fitzroy Simpson and the rest of the Jamaican team,
there was absolutely no rush to leave the field. They had come to France to
show the world the free-form party that they call Jamaican soccer, and in
their final match the Reggae Boyz finally got it right.
the road really have to end that quick?" Simpson said. "I'm really ecstatic
at the moment. I'm over the moon that we can actually leave the tournament
on a high."
Theodore Whitmore scored in the 40th and 54th
minutes to create some island joy at the rainswept Stade de Gerland in
Friday's 2-1 victory over fellow newcomer Japan, the first
World Cup victory by a Caribbean nation since Cuba beat Romania 2-1 in
1938, also in France.
"I am very proud of them," said coach
Rene Simoes, a Brazilian who
controversially cobbled together a team with several foreign residents who
claimed Jamaican ancestry. "And I'm sure Jamaica must be. We don't have to
be ashamed of anything. Let's go for the future and 2002."
Simpson is one such newcomer from a different nationality, having played
and lived in England until
just over a year ago. But he most assuredly knew the victory's impact back
in Kingston, Jamaica.
"It gives hope for all of Jamaican
football," Simpson said. "As I said from the start, we weren't playing just
for the team here, we were playing for the whole of Jamaican football, and
we're hopeful we've laid a fantastic foundation for the younger players
The loss ended a hard-luck tournament for
Japan, which lost all three of its games by one goal and proved each time
it can do everything except score. Leaving the field, goalkeeper Yoshikatsu
Kawaguchi tried his best to smile through his tears as he accepted the
cheers of thousands of Japanese fans.
"We lost, but it was a
good game," striker Wagner Lopes said. "Japanese soccer will get even
better in the future."
Once again, the Japanese play on defense
and in midfield was competent and sometimes masterful, but the 2002 Cup
co-hosts lacked the quality striker who could finish off the chances and
left France 98 with only one goal -- Masashi Nakayama's strike in the 74th
Coach Takeshi Okada took the blame, and immediately
"I will quit as professional coach," Okada said.
"When a coach fails to achieve what he sets out to do, he should quit. It
is my responsibility. I was not able to draw the best out of the players in
The opening goal came after teammate Stephen
Malcolm and Japanese defender Yutaka Akita collided while trying to play
the ball in the penalty area. The ball fell to Whitmore, who drove his
12-meter shot past defender Naoki Soma and to the right of Kawaguchi.
Whitmore added his second when the Japanese defense gave him space
to take Fitzroy Simpson's pass down the right wing. The midfielder spun
defender Noria Omura around and nailed a left-footed drive from 15 yards.
Japan hit the post and forced goalkeeper Aaron Lawrence to make
several solid saves in the second half, and finally broke through when
Naoki Soma's long ball was headed by Lopes to Nakayama, whose one-timer
from 8 yards easily beat Lawrence. Jamaica also had a goal
disallowed in the 15th minute when Ian Goodison, who headed in a well-laid
corner kick from Simpson, was apparently whistled for pushing by Austrian
referee Gunter Benko.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.