Let's improve technique to match good tactics

Saturday, July 29, 2017

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It's always pleasant to be praised by friends, but it is even more satisfying when tributes come from opponents.

We say this in the context of the outstanding effort of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz — beaten finalists in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in California on Wednesday night.

Perhaps the most pleasing compliment for coach Mr Theodore Whitmore, his players and back room staff came from the United States coach Mr Bruce Arena on the eve of the final which the Americans won 2-1.

“They're a different type of Jamaican team than we've seen in the past,” Mr Arena was quoted by Observer Sports Editor Mr Ian Burnett as saying the day before the final.

“They (Reggae Boyz) have a lot of discipline, they're very strong defensively, and they're hard to play against. That, to me, is not what you typically see of a Jamaican team,” Mr Arena added.

Just to be clear, Mr Arena's reference to 'discipline' was related to the tactical on-field approach of the Jamaican team throughout the tournament.

Even in the first two games, when the Jamaican performance was sometimes less than pleasing, there was no doubting that there was a clear plan and that the players were committed to that plan.

The team was blessed with arguably the top goalkeeper in the CONCACAF region, Mr Andre Blake, and sensible, solid, physically strong defenders led by Mr Jermaine Taylor. While the midfield lacked creativity, it was superbly marshalled and led by the outstanding Mr Je-Vaughn Watson. And up front, strong, determined and fleet-footed strikers, kept opposing defenders wary.

In such circumstances, the Jamaicans played to their strengths. They absorbed pressure and sought to hit hard on the break. Until the unfortunate injury to Mr Blake early in the first half of the final, Mr Whitmore's plan worked to perfection.

Of course, there were glaring technical weaknesses. For one thing, largely because of the awful surfaces on which they first learn their craft, Jamaican players are often let down by their first touch.

Good football is largely about the efficient and swift utilisation of time and space. Obviously then, those who are best able to bring the moving ball under control quickly and then pass with accuracy, have a distinct advantage over others.

In this regard, the Jamaicans were at a distinct disadvantage against almost all opponents in the recent tournament. Despite that, they competed well because of their tactical discipline, speed, fitness, strength and the determined, never-say-die attitude — the Jamaican spirit — to which we have referred previously in this space.

Mr Whitmore has already indicated that he wants to build on this performance. He should be given all the support that's possible, going forward.

And as the way is prepared for a new chief to replace the late legendary Captain Horace Burrell at the helm of Jamaican football, priority must be given to the proper nurturing of young, fledgling footballers so that best practice, including good first touch, becomes part and parcel of their game.

Our football administrators must plan for the day when Jamaican players will compete with the best, not just tactically, but also technically.




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