Thursday, February 23, 2017
ATTACK — Boyz to employ offensive flow against PanamaBY IAN BURNETT Sport Editor
That will be the sentiment of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz when they take on Panama at 8:30 pm in Friday's CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier inside the National Stadium.
The Boyz are currently lying in joint second place, with one point, in the hexagonal, alongside Panama and Costa Rica, who drew 2-2 in Panama City, and Mexico, with whom they drew 0-0 in Mexico City, and two behind early leaders Honduras, who beat the pointless USA 2-1 at home in San Pedro Sula.
The Boyz produced a magnificent effort inside the Estadio Azteca on February 6, but assistant head coach Alfredo Montesso believes that result has already been tucked away into the history books, and it's now time to shift the focus to Friday's game.
"Now our approach has to be different, we have to take some more risks in the game because we are playing at home and this is what we have started to put in their minds. So once we put our feet on the ground, understand our limitations, know our potential, and work really hard at that, I believe we have a chance to do a very good game against Panama and the result will be a consequence of that," Montesso told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the 24-man squad — less Tramaine Stewart, DuWayne Kerr and Dane Richards, who were scheduled to arrive in the island last night — completed its first training session at the JFF Technical Centre at the University of the West Indies, Mona.
He added: "We have to repeat the performance we gave against Mexico, especially in the marking (defensive organisation)... we have to push Panama back into their own half, we have to attack more, of course, with more ball possession, much more than we did against Mexico."
The Brazilian added that the technical staff is overjoyed with the quality of players now at their disposal, but it is now important to get the players to gel and perform as a unit.
"We like very much the quality of the team right now, and not only the technical quality, but the experience that these players bring to the team, that's really important," he said. "What we have to do right now is to make them into a unit, though everybody has his own goals, I think that we have to get them to put these goals together, and the word has to be team; because the team has to be put in front of everything and that is what we are trying to put in their minds."
In fact, Montesso noted that the technical staff, led by head coach Theodore Whitmore, had long got over the historic result against Mexico, and had already begun preparing for Friday's encounter, especially with the expectations heightened.
"Our minds have been set, and we started working on this Panama game since we finished the game against Mexico," he said. "We know that it is a very important game, as all the games in the campaign will be, but I believe the result that we got in Mexico has increased the expectations too much around the team, so what the team has to do is when we play at home we have to understand that football today is not the way many people think. It is not because we went to Mexico and got a draw and created the two best chances to score it means that we are going to come here and beat Panama three, four, five goals. That is not football around the world today.
"We have to be really conscious about that. I have analysed the game, and we did 195 passes in that game and that is not enough for a team that wants to qualify for a World Cup. We have to improve on that.
"Of course the circumstance was different, it was a plan that we had to play organised, not take too many risks, wait for Mexico to make errors, so we did very well. I believe that we had the chance to finish some plays and even win the game," he observed.
Yesterday the Boyz, most of whom arrived in the island on Sunday evening, trained for just over 90 minutes on half of field number two. Reading's Garath McCleary was excused from the session after he picked up a knock during Saturday's Barclays' Premier League 0-1 loss to run-away leaders Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Meanwhile, the Boyz got a surprise visit from officers of the Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission, who carried out random doping tests on three players.
Just prior to the kick-off of the semi-final phase of the CONCACAF Qualifiers last summer, the Reggae Boyz engaged Panama in a home-and-away friendly series, losing both, 0-1 and 1-2, respectively.
Montesso believes that his team then was being finalised for that phase of the competition and, though the Central Americans — known for the riches of the Panama Canal — boast a superior record of five wins, four draws and two losses against the Reggae Boyz, the locals will be a much better unit now.
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