‘Jamaica exceeded expectations in reaching Gold Cup football final’

Atlanta (Georgia), July 24 (IANS) Jamaica striker Jobi McAnuff believes the Caribbean champions have exceeded expectations in reaching the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup football tourney.

The Jamaican side became the first-ever Caribbean side to reach the final of the prestigious tournament when they stunned defending champions and favourites United States 2-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal at the Georgia Dome stadium, reports CMC.

“This (achievement) is right up there (in my career). We were massive underdogs coming in to the tournament,” said the 33-year-old on Thursday.

“No one gave us a chance of getting out the group. One estimate (said we would get) two points and fourth place (but) we won the group and we’ve come through but it’s not done yet. We’ve got a final to go and win now.”

Jamaica struck twice in the first half to be up 2-0 at half-time. Darren Mattocks headed the Caribbean side in front in the 31st and Giles Barnes curled in a free kick five minutes later to double the lead.

Michael Bradley pulled a goal back three minutes following the resumption but Jamaica doubled down to pull off only their second win in 23 outings against the Americans.

“It’s unbelievable. Coming into the game we knew we had a chance to make history. It was a tough, tough night. We knew what it would be like at home with all their fans right behind them,” McAnuff said.

“But like we have done for the tournament, we dug in together, everything’s been done as a team and that’s what has got us to the final.”

He added: “I think we exceeded probably the expectation from their point of view. We knew if we could contain them, we would be able to catch them on the break. Obviously in the second half they scored early and put us under pressure but we held up and I’m just proud of everybody.”

McAnuff was also full of praise for head coach Winfried Schafer’s role in the team’s success.

“He gives a lot of responsibility to the players which obviously we take onto the pitch,” he noted.

“We’ve got 11 leaders when we’re out on the pitch and a great togetherness.”

Jamaica will face Mexico in the Gold Cup final in Philadelphia on Sunday.

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