Wishing the Reggae Boyz well

Saturday, June 02, 2012    

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Coaches and football fans will often have very different aspirations as they sit down to watch a football friendly international.

We suspect that was very much the case at the National Stadium last Sunday for the friendly international between Jamaica and Panama.

For while national coach Mr Theodore Whitmore and his assistant Mr Alfredo Montesso were intent on looking at new players and formulating strategies ahead of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign which begins on June 8, fans mostly wanted to win.

We contend that would have been the main reason some fans booed in disappointment when the game ended in a 1-0 defeat for the Reggae Boyz. As it was, Jamaican attacks twice ended with shots hitting the frame of the goal. An inch or two more accurate and those shots would have hit the back of the net. In that case, we suspect there would have been no boos as the players left the field. Rather, we suspect, there would have been cheers.

However, for those who follow football with a trained and accustomed eye, even victory for the Jamaican national team on Sunday night would have left them less than comfortable.

There was in truth a disquieting sense of discordance and a lack of team co-ordination in defence and midfield. There was much talk of a need for greater "creativity", but this newspaper sensed an even greater need for a stabilising influence -- to authoritatively change the pace of the game when deemed necessary and to bring calm at all times.

All too often the ball was given away far too easily as players, seemingly out of sync with each other, made hasty passes or ill-timed dribbles.

Much of that, we suspect, was the result of players simply not being accustomed to each other -- drawn as they are from disparate leagues in Britain, Scandinavia, North America and Jamaica. That scenario begs the question of whether Mr Whitmore may not have waited too long before making his final assessments.

The difficulty, of course, is that many of Jamaica's top footballers now play professionally abroad and their availability for the national team is often limited to "windows" for internationals provided by global football's governing body FIFA.

The hope now is that regardless of the result of last night's return friendly in Panama City, the Jamaicans will show much greater cohesion and oneness of purpose.

Bear in mind that regardless of last night's result, the 'real business' begins on June 8 when the Reggae Boyz face Guatemala in the opening game of the campaign to get to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

As we have said before in this space, qualifying for Brazil would be a huge boost for this country. We wish the Reggae Boyz well.





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