LOS ANGELES – With two Jamaican starters possibly injured, the selection chances of Phoenix Rising players Junior Flemmings and Kevon Lambert have been boosted ahead of Tuesday’s crunch Group C clash against Curaçao.
Jamaica needs at least a draw to guarantee its progression in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, yet could be forced to rest stars Leon Bailey and Michael Hector should they fail assessments on Monday.
Flemmings, who has scored eight goals for Rising this season, started Friday’s draw against El Salvador and made an appearance from the bench against Honduras. His clubmate, Lambert, went unused in both games but did record an assist in the team’s warm-up fixture against the United States.
Bailey’s absence would represent a significant blow for Jamaica. According to the Jamaica Observer, the Bayer Leverkusen winger was scheduled to have a CT scan Sunday after a strain in his right foot against El Salvador. He only recently returned from a hamstring injury suffered in April.
Hector is also questionable for the match. Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore confirmed concerns around the Chelsea player’s groin. Hector started both games to date in central midfield.
At a press conference Monday morning, Whitmore said that both players will face injury assessments after Monday’s training session.
Jamaica finished as runner-up in the last two Gold Cups but qualified for this edition in underwhelming fashion. It finished below its opponent, Curaçao, in Nations League qualifying, which doubled up as the preliminary tournament for the Gold Cup.
“Tomorrow’s game will be like a final,” Whitmore said. “If you look at the group, all three teams have a chance to qualify for the next round. So, tomorrow will be very interesting.”
A draw or win for the Reggae Boyz will confirm their place in the quarterfinals, where they would face Panama or the United States. A loss, however, would require eliminated Honduras to defeat El Salvador by at least the same margin.
Curaçao, meanwhile, is hoping to make it to the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time ever. With Cardiff City’s Leandro Bacuna scoring the country’s first-ever Gold Cup goal last Friday while eliminating Honduras, their morale is high.
“If we have the spirit and the motivation and the focus that we had in the game against Honduras, we will win,” Curaçao coach Remko Bicentini said confidently. He said that a victory against Jamaica, and the ensuing quarterfinal appearance, will set off fireworks back home.
The two sides will face each other at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
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