The two newbies in the Hex square off on Friday in a World Cup qualifier that could have one of the two sitting pretty. Both Jamaica and Panama did not qualifying for the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying last cycle, but made it this time around and earned draws in their respective openers on February 6.
Jamaica was the big winner with their first match draw, picking up a rare point against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. And to be frank, the Reggae Boyz were unlucky not to take all three points. They were the better side at the most intimidating venue in the region and will take that momentum back to Jamaica, where they will host a strong Panama side.
Los Canaleros were disappointed to draw Costa Rica in Panama City last month, especially after going ahead 2-0. Their normally sturdy defense gave up two goals, albeit it sensational goals, and Panama had to settle for a disappointing draw at home. With realistic hopes of qualifying for their first World Cup, Panama need to pick up three points every time they can, and having failed the firs time out, they will be hunting for a win in Kingston.
The question is whether either of these teams will be able to muster an attack. Both like to defend and counterattack, a tactic that usually works well, but if both teams are sitting back, it will be a dull match without many chances for either team.
Which team can best acquit itself when asked to generate chances in possession against a team not caught forward then? Probably Panama.
The strength of the Panama front line with Blas Perez and Luis Tejada makes them capable of outmuscling the Jamaica defense and finding goals, even if it isn't pretty. Jamaica will have to rely on the likes of Jobi McAnuff and Jermaine Beckford, who are quality players, but not yet proven in CONCACAF qualifying, where things can get a little ... unique.
Match date/time: Friday, March 22; 9:30 p..m. ET
Venue: Independence Park, Kingston, Jamaica
TV: TV Max 9 (Panama)