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McAnuff hails ´massive underdogs´ Jamaica for reaching maiden Gold Cup final

Jamaica midfielder Jobi McAnuff claimed reaching the CONCACAF Gold Cup final is one of the highlights of his career, after the Caribbean nation stunned United States on Wednesday.

McAnuff was thrilled Jamaica were able to prove their critics wrong in their semi-final in Atlanta, with first-half goals to Darren Mattocks and Giles Barnes setting up a 2-1 victory against the tournament co-hosts and defending champions.

Having lost all three group matches at the Copa America in June, McAnuff conceded Winfried Schafer’s team were “massive underdogs” before CONCACAF’s showpiece event began.

But they are now just one win away from their maiden Gold Cup title – a significant moment in McAnuff’s career, which has included winning the Championship in England with Reading and playing in the Premier League.

“This is right up there, man,” the 33-year-old said.

“You know, massive underdogs coming into the tournament, no-one gave us a chance of getting out of the group – one estimate was two points and fourth place [but] we won the group and then we’ve come through.

“But it’s not done yet, we’ve got a final to go and win now.”

A combination of rapid counter-attacks, direct play, structured defending and luck saw Jamaica overcome their highly fancied opponents at the Georgia Dome.

Mattocks opening the scoring with a header from a long throw in the 31st minute before Barnes benefitted from a decision from the referee.

After collecting a cross in the 34th minute, USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan appeared to release his throw outside the boundaries of his penalty area and the referee awarded Jamaica a free-kick.

Barnes slotted the set-piece into the net, and although Michael Bradley pulled a goal back just after half-time and Jamaica keeper Ryan Thompson rode his luck with some poor handling at times, Schafer’s men triumphed.

McAnuff explained that it was Jamaica’s plan to sit deep, frustrate USA, and rely on Barnes and Mattocks’ ability to counter-attack.

“We knew if we could contain them, we’d be able to catch them on the break,” he said.

“Obviously, second half they scored early, put us under pressure but we held out, so I’m just proud of everybody connected.”

Thu 23 Jul, 2015
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