Reggae Boyz lift Cup
Posted by Dresonic on February 22, 2007
HONG KONG (AFP) – Jamaica’s Olympic team beat their Chinese counterparts 5-4 on penalties to lift the Lunar New Year Cup after a goalless 120 minutes in the final yesterday.
Goalkeeper Allien Whittaker was the hero, saving two spot-kicks as former China coach Bora Milutinovic masterminded another surprise victory in the international friendly tournament.
Milutinovic became the first coach to win the tournament for a second time, having been successful with Nigeria in 1998.
The 62-year-old Serbian, who has taken Mexico, United States, Costa Rica and Nigeria to the second round of the World Cup, was delighted with the under-23 team’s success.
“I’m so happy for the Jamaican team. The whole of Jamaica can celebrate this win,” he said.
“The Jamaicans really tried their best and I am so happy for many of the players who have never played abroad before. It was important to win this tournament.”
In a lacklustre final which produced few bright moments, China had the better game and looked more dangerous in attack, but failed to find the back of the net against a stubborn Jamaican defence.
Jamaica started the penalty shootout poorly when Nicholy Finlayson missed his effort, but his team-mates buried their next five kicks.
China’s Dai Qinhua and Wan Houliang both had their spot-kicks saved by Whittaker before Donovan Davis tapped in to start the Jamaican celebrations.
China coach Ratomir Dujkovic was disappointed but hoped his team, vilified over the notorious brawl which overshadowed a visit to England this month, will have more luck at next year’s Beijing Olympics.
“We have to get this behind us and look forward to the future. Hopefully we will get more luck. Luck played a major part tonight,” said Dujkovic, who is also a Serb.
China’s best chance fell in the 61st minute when striker Jiang Chen darted into the box and struck a post during an excellent spell. Two minutes later, Jamaica ‘keeper Whittaker produced an excellent save to keep out Li Wei’s powerful freekick.
The Chinese tried hard to break the deadlock during extra-time but Jamaica’s defence refused to buckle.
China fielded the same starting line-up which comprehensively defeated Australia’s under-23s 2-0 on Sunday.
Earlier, Australia also needed penalties to overcome Hong Kong in the match for third place.
The Olyroos led the hosts 2-0 through Nathan Burns and Bruce Djite before conceding to Festus Baise and a Keith Gumbs penalty, but made amends by scoring all five penalties.
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