Friday, June 26, 2015

26 June 1998 - Jamaica's Jammin' On Japan

On 26 June 1998, Jamaica earned their first and only World Cup points, beating fellow Cup debutants Japan 1-2 in the group stage. Unfortunately, it was not enough to advance and both Jamaica and Japan were eliminated from the tournament.

Jamaica, who qualified for the 1998 tournament by finishing third in the final CONCACAF table, behind the United States and Mexico, opened their World Cup campaign with a 3-1 loss to Croatia, followed by a crushing 5-0 defeat at the hands of Argentina. Japan, meanwhile, had also lost their first two matches, but by much closer margins of 1-0 in both games.

Playing before a crowd of 39,100 at Lyon's Stade Gerland, Jamaica too a first-half lead against Japan with a 39th-minute goal from midfielder Theodore Whitmore (pictured), as the ball dropped to his feet in the middle of the box and he powered a right-footed shot past the Japanese keeper. Whitmore doubled the lead for the Reggae Boyz in the second half, making a charging run down the right side of the box, then squeezing a left-footed shot into the net from a tight angle.

Japanese forward Masashi Nakayama pulled one back in the 74th minute, but Japan were unable to find another. The defeat sent Japan to the bottom of the group, but Jamaica finished in third place and were also eliminated.

Japan returned to the World Cup in 2002 as co-hosts, advancing to the second round, and also qualified for the 2006 and 2010 tournaments. The win over Japan remains Jamaica's last appearance in a World Cup, as they have yet to qualify for another.

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