Sport

‘Tappa’ says schoolboy players part of the plan

By Howard Walker Observer senior reporter walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 12, 2017    

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Jamaica’s next International Friendlies against the USA and Honduras will be critical as national Head Coach Theodore Whitmore charts his rebuilding phase towards retaining the Caribbean Cup and giving a good show at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Whitmore, who just returned from the inaugural Best FIFA Football Awards in Zurich, Switzerland, also pointed out that the current crop of schoolboy stars are on his radar and could see playing time come April.

The Reggae Boyz, who are set to play USA and Honduras on February 3 and 16, had another training session at the Stadium East field yesterday with an inter-squad match

“All of these games are important how we treat them. We are in a rebuilding process at the moment and we want to change a number of things. It’s a work in progress and we want to be very competitive in these games coming up,” he told the


Jamaica Observer.

Whitmore pointed out that while he wanted to improve the relationship between players, the coaching staff and the Jamaica Football Federation, importantly he wants to establish the commitment of the players to the programme.

However, despite the date of the two games not being official FIFA match days, Whitmore is still hoping to have a strong squad that will be largely locally based, but is expected to be a competitive one.

“It’s out of the FIFA window and most of our MLS (Major League Soccer) players will be going into preseason. So we’re trying to put the best possible squad we have together now to see how best we can compete in these two games,” he reiterated.

Whitmore, who is Jamaica’s top scorer in a senior FIFA World Cup with two goals, had encouraging news for the current crop of schoolboy stars, noting that they are very much a part of his immediate plans.

The likes of Alex Marshall (St George’s College), Jourdaine Fletcher, Peter-Lee Vassell (Cornwall College), Deshane Beckford (Ruseas High), Greggton Charlton (Clarendon College) and Alphonso Gooden (Wolmer’s Boys) can all keep their fingers crossed that their call could be right around the corner.

“They are definitely a part of our plans, but if you noticed they had a long Manning and daCosta season. Also, it’s the start of a new school year, so we have to find a possible balance because we don’t want to take them out of school now for four days,” he explained.

“We will have to look at the window of April, as that will be the best possible time for us when they would have completed their exams. Again, we just want to make everything feasible. We have to look at their benefit as well and not try to shortchange anybody,” he added.

On Sunday both Fletcher and Gooden scored winners for their clubs Montego Bay United and Harbour View, respectively, in the Red Stripe Premier League.

“I have seen a few we can always work with. It’s good to see a Jourdaine Fletcher playing Premier League, and that’s what most of them need to do to make the transition from schoolboy and come up with a lot of consistency,” said Whitmore.

In 2012 Whitmore gave a senior debut to the then Kingston College 17-year-old Jorginho James and he duly scored the winner against Cuba.

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