Boyz ready to go, says Whitmore
JAMAICA'S senior team head coach Theodore Whitmore said he is pleased with the team's readiness for the World Cup qualifier against the United States, despite the void left by left-sided player Demar Phillips.
The Jamaicans host the CONCACAF giants at the National Stadium this Friday, with kick-off scheduled for 7:00 pm, before the teams meet for the return fixture next Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
Whitmore, who oversaw the team's two-hour training session yesterday at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Technical Centre located at the UWI, Mona Campus, conceded that the left side is a concern for the coaching staff.
"That is an area of concern for us and we're looking and trying to get the best out of that left-sided position. In other areas I'm pleased and I think as the week progresses we should improve," he said.
Phillips, who is out of Friday's clash due to a leg injury, is known for his energetic runs down the left flank and ability to retreat quickly to support the defensive unit.
The wily player continued his record of scoring important goals for Jamaica when he conjured up the opener in the 2-1 home win over Guatemala in June.
With promising attacker Errol Stevens also struggling with a knee injury and the decision to pick a number of youthful Jamaicans playing in US Major League Soccer ahead of several veteran players, Whitmore maintained that the 24-man squad is balanced and hungry for success.
"We selected a team that is covered from back to front. Based on what we want to achieve performance-wise, in terms of hunger and also commitment, I think we have the best possible 24 players at the moment," said the 1998 World Cup star.
During yesterday's session, which included a series of fitness routines led by trainer Andre Waugh before Whitmore and assistant coach Alfredo Montesso took over the full field tactical drills, national Under-23 player Andre Campbell took up the left-sided role.
Whitmore suggested that intensity was lacking due to weary legs.
"I'm not 100 per cent satisfied, but I'm somewhat pleased. It's the first training session with all our players and though it wasn't perfect, it was okay.
"I think some had a bit of tired legs, but I'm somewhat pleased with the overall showing," he said.
The United States and Jamaica are tied at the top of the four-team Group A on four points each, and are followed by Antigua & Barbuda and Guatemala, who both have one point.
Whitmore believes it is the ideal time to secure a first ever win over the group favourites.
"This is what we are working towards all week. It is important to get the win. We know we haven't beaten the US in a number of meetings and I think the time is now," he stressed.
The top two teams in the group will progress to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014.
Meanwhile, the Reggae Boyz are set to visit the Glenhope Place of Safety at 2:30 this afternoon.
Squad — Duwayne Kerr, Dwayne Miller, Jacomeno Barrett, Adrian Mariappa, Nyron Nosworthy, Shavar Thomas, Dicoy Williams, Jermaine Taylor, Andre Campbell, Lovell Palmer, O'Brien Woodbine, Jason Morrison, Rodolph Austin, Je-Vaughn Watson, Ewan Grandison, Joel Senior, Dane Richards, Luton Shelton, Ryan Johnson, Darren Mattocks, Tramaine Stewart, Omar Cummings, Kavin Bryan, Errol Stevens.