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Decordova-Reid returns in Jamaica defeat

Bobby Decordova-Reid returned from his Covid-enforced lay-off but couldn’t inspire Jamaica to victory as they were beaten 1-0 by the United States in this morning’s Gold Cup quarter-final.

Decordova-Reid, who had missed the Reggae Boyz’s 2-1 victory against Guadeloupe last Friday and the 1-0 defeat against Costa Rica on Tuesday night, completed a period of isolation and returned two negative tests in order to feature from the start in Arlington but couldn’t repeat his heroics from the tournament’s opening game – when he scored a stunning goal to beat Suriname.

Jamaica battled bravely but were beaten by a late header from Matthew Hoppe. Fulham defender Michael Hector, used in a holding midfield role throughout these championships, was an used substitute. The Americans will face Qatar in Thursday’s semi-final whilst the Fulham pair will head back to London to join the tail end of Marco Silva’s pre-season preparations.

Hector helps Jamaica into Gold Cup quarter finals

Fulham’s Michael Hector helped Jamaica qualify for the quarter finals of the Gold Cup last night as they overcome Guadeloupe 2-1 to progress from Group C.

The Reggae Boyz required an 87th minute winner from Junior Flemmings to complete a come from behind victory in Orlando last night. An own goal from Amari’i Bell had given Guadeloupe a surprise early lead, but Cory Burke’s low drive quickly levelled matters.

Hector again lined up in a defensive midfield role for Jamaica and played over an hour before being substituted in favour of matchwinner Flemmings. Costa Rica’s victory over Suriname ensures that both they and Jamaica have qualified for the last eight ahead of their concluding Group C clash on Wednesday.

Bobby Decordova-Reid did not feature with rumours suggesting that he is the member of the Jamaican squad that has tested positive for coronavirus. The Jamaican Football Federation confirmed that a member of their squad has contracted coronavirus, but has not revealed the identity of the player.

Meanwhile, Hector has told the Jamaican Observer that there is a real confidence amongst the squad and that he has considered the possibility of going all the way in the tournament:

“It [winning the Gold Cup] would mean everything to me… it would be history and that’s the personal goal I have set myself, and that is not to say I have not set other goals with Jamaica. For me and my family, it would be a proud moment [to win the Gold Cup], and no one has ever done it, so why can’t we be the first? With the group of players we have, we fancy our chances to go very deep in the tournament. Obviously, in tournament football you can’t think too far ahead as you have got to take it game by game.”

Decordova-Reid and Hector included in Jamaica Gold Cup squad

Fulham pair Bobby Decordova-Reid and Michael Hector have been included in Jamaica’s squad for the forthcoming Gold Cup.

Jamaica have been drawn in Group C alongside Costa Rica, Suriname and a qualifier from the preliminary rounds that get underway tomorrow. All of Jamaica’s group fixtures take place in Nevada, with the first game against Suriname on July 12.

Decordova-Reid, who had an outstanding season for Fulham in the Premier League, has won six senior caps for Jamaica, scoring a single goal. Centre back Hector has earned 33 caps for his country.

Hector wants to fulfil Premier League dream

Fulham defender Michael Hector hopes to fulfil his Premier League dream as he finishes his topsy-turvy season with a Wembley play-off final.

Hector missed the first half of the season as his £8million move from Chelsea came a few days after the summer transfer window.

But the Jamaica international feels that break benefited him – and Fulham – in the long run as he got to know his new team-mates on the training ground and in meeting rooms before entering the heat of Sky Bet Championship battle.

Hector has since been a stand-out player as Fulham have progressed to a Wembley date against London rivals Brentford on Tuesday.

“It was a strange time not signing in the summer window,” said Hector, who Fulham fans have compared to Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk and christened ‘Virgil Van Mike’.

“But training with the team from September to January helped me settle in.

“Before I’ve been in (situations) where I’ve had to go straight into the team and not found out players’ strengths and weaknesses.

“But I was able to going to team meetings when I wasn’t playing and that helped me find out about my team-mates.

“I was watching what they were doing in games and watching the games back with them. I felt when I did come in I could help them with certain aspects of the game, whether that was talking a bit more or making tackles.”

Hector has had a curious career with no fewer than 10 loan spells after starting out at Reading and signing for Chelsea in 2015.

Aldershot, Barnet and Shrewsbury may be unglamorous stops, but there have been high points along the way.

There was a play-off goal for Cheltenham and an FA Cup semi-final appearance for Reading against Arsenal at Wembley.

And for Eintracht Frankfurt there was a German Cup final appearance in 2017 and the task of keeping Christian Pulisic and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang quiet in a game Borussia Dortmund won 2-1.

“I loved it, the atmosphere was crazy,” Hector said.

“But it’s about playing the game, because sometimes people can get caught up in the occasion and get lost in it.

“You don’t really take it in. If you do take it in, that’s when it hits you.

“Don’t play the occasion and that’s when you play well. But when I look back at it, then it was special moments playing at Wembley and Berlin.”

Hector joined Chelsea for £4m in 2015 but failed to break through at Stamford Bridge.

As well as Eintracht, he was loaned out to Reading, Hull and Sheffield Wednesday before making the short journey across west London.

“All my loans were learning curves,” Hector said.

“I learned the hard way with certain mistakes, but it’s all part of the game and I’ve become a better player for it.

“I’ve not played in the Premier League – it wasn’t to be at Chelsea, the team I supported and signed for – and it would be a dream to do that.

“Growing up you strive to do that and we’re just 90 minutes away.”

Brentford finished above Scott Parker’s Fulham on goal difference to take third spot.

The Bees also claimed a Championship double over Fulham, including a 2-0 win at Craven Cottage when football resumed after the coronavirus lockdown in June.

“Brentford are a high-scoring team and you have to respect that,” Hector said.

“But we go into the game full of confidence. With the team we have, we back ourselves to beat anyone on the day.

Hector hails Fulham’s fortitude

Michael Hector hailed Fulham’s defensive display after the Whites ‘dug in’ at Ewood Park to secure a narrow victory over Blackburn Rovers yesterday afternoon.

The Jamaican international has made a huge difference since coming into the Fulham back four in January, keeping four clean sheets in five appearances, and helping Scott Parker’s side move level on points with Leeds in the race for an automatic promotion spot. The centre back was pleased with Fulham’s focus yesterday as they had to be patient and wait for their opportunities against a well-drilled Blackburn outfit.

He told the club’s official website:

It wasn’t the type of pitch that we could play our nice football on, but we showed a side to us where we dug in and waited for our chance. And when you’ve got Mitro up front you’re always going to have a chance to grab a goal. We defended really well, we had to be horrible, and it was a nice away win.

Hector revealed that the players weren’t getting too carried away with the fact that the gap to Leeds had been whittled down to nothing, given the unpredictable nature of the division.

It’s the Championship, everyone has their dip, everyone has their run, and we’ve just got to keep plugging away and concentrate on our games. I think that’s important in the Champ. You’ve just got to take care of your game, and the rest will take care of themselves. There’s so many games in the Champ that you can put a couple of wins together and you jump three or four places.

It’s so tight this league at the moment, Bristol City could have won and gone above us. It’s a crazy league, but that’s what you love about it. We’ve got good momentum but we’ve just got to focus on the next game. When May comes, we’ll see where we are. It’s onto Millwall now and we fight for another three points.