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Jamaica v Venezuela: Grant raring to go ahead of Copa opener

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 4 Jun 2016

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Joel Grant is ready for action ahead of Jamaica’s Copa America Centenario opener against Venezuela on Sunday.

Exeter City striker Grant was a late call-up to Winfried Schafer’s squad after Simon Dawkins was ruled out of the tournament due to a groin injury, and he rewarded the head coach’s faith with the crucial second goal in Jamaica’s shock 2-1 friendly win over Copa holders Chile last week.

Grant replaced Dever Orgill at half-time in Vina del Mar, and it took him just eight minutes to put the Reggae Boyz into a two-goal lead when he headed home a Giles Barnes cross.

And the 28-year-old is full of confidence ahead of his country’s Group C clash with Venezuela at Soldier Field in Chicago.

Grant told the Jamaica Football Federation’s official website: “It was a long way to go to Chile and I was just hopeful I could play some part. I happened to score the winning goal and it was an unbelievable feeling.

“I kept myself conditioned. With last week’s game and some training, I’ll be ready for the tournament.”

Their famous win over Alexis Sanchez and co at the Estadio Sausalito typifies Jamaica’s inconsistent form, though.

Schafer’s side were beaten 3-0 by Costa Rica in their most recent competitive outing, and are third in their World Cup qualification group having won just one of their four fixtures to date.

Venezuela, meanwhile, sit rock bottom of the South American qualifying table, with just one point from their six matches.

Rafael Dudamel’s team have won only one of their last 15 games, and were held to a 1-1 draw by Guatemala in their final Copa warm-up match last Wednesday.

Venezuela sprung a huge surprise by beating Colombia in their first game of last year’s Copa, but subsequent defeats to Peru and Brazil saw them eliminated at the pool stages.

With Uruguay and Mexico the heavy favourites to progress from Group C this time around, it would seem that both Jamaica and Venezuela both need three points to stand any chance of going through.

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