Mr Theodore Whitmore scores again

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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In probably their most inspiring performance since the halcyon days of getting to the 1998 World Cup finals in France, our Reggae Boyz beat the United States in football at the senior level for the first time at last.

Often we see teams winning against the run-of-play, but on Friday night at 'The Office', Jamaica matched the US stride for stride in a highly professional display.

That success continued the joy and pride Jamaica has experienced this year, following nicely on the euphoria that attended the celebration of 50 years of political Independence and the dominant 12-medal performance by our athletes at the London Olympics. Add to that, of course, the productive return of Mr Chris Gayle to the West Indies team.

There are several lessons to be drawn from this triumph over the US. First, let us acknowledge the quality of Mr Theodore Whitmore, a man of many deeds and few words.

The win over the US is not his only first, as he scored in his English league debut and slotted home two goals in Jamaica's first and only win -- over Japan -- at the 1998 World Cup finals. He has made a successful transition from a stellar career as a professional footballer to national football coach.

Second, Mr Whitmore's success once again proves that home-based Jamaican coaches can be as good, and in many instances better than foreign coaches.

Coaches Glen Mills and Stephen Francis have already proven this beyond doubt in track athletics, building on a tradition dating back to the late-1940s and with the benefit of a well-organised national system of athletics.

Mr Whitmore may not have had the solid grounding of his counterparts in athletics, but he has benefited from the confidence which emanated from his success as an international player and the belief that Jamaica can reach the World Cup Finals again.

Third, Mr Whitmore has built on lessons pioneered by Mr Rene Simoes by blending Jamaicans playing in leagues all over the world, including North America, Asia and Europe. This successful blend is not always achievable, even by more famous and highly paid coaches in more football-rich countries.

Fourth, Coach Whitmore is his own man, takes his own decisions and differs even from Mr Simoes, wisely in many respects. While retaining the short-passing, possessional style often associated with Brazil, he has managed to impress on the players the importance of teamwork ahead of individualism and has opted for speed and team camaraderie over experience and fame.

He has also shattered the myth that foreign-based professionals will not respect and follow the instructions of a local coach.

Mr Whitmore has selected and motivated the players to consistently execute the game plan, to run on and off the ball for all 90 minutes, to play as a team, to remain calm in the face of pressure and provocation, and to keep the discipline of the formation.

We also give much credit to Captain Horace Burrell for having the confidence in Mr Whitmore to hire him and support him.

The players, too, all deserve full credit. However, we believe our readers will forgive us for making special mention of the goal scorers Messrs Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton.

There is a long, long way to go in this World Cup qualifying campaign, but on the strength of what we saw on Friday night, this newspaper is confident the Reggae Boyz will be at the World Cup Finals in Brazil come 2014.





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