GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala — Assistant coach Alfredo Montesso believes that for the Reggae Boyz to get the desired result against Guatemala today, they must stop the hosts from playing close to their goal.
"Preparations are going really well, we had a good atmosphere to train, the field that we trained was really good, the players were really energised in the sessions, we spent a lot of time thinking about Guatemala, how they are going to play, the straight transition," Montesso told the press yesterday.
"They are not a team that keeps moving the ball from one side to another, we have to fight for first and second balls," he added.
"Once we can tie our midfield and regain that second ball it will be crucial to keep our ball possession and move our block in their half of the field.
"What we don't want is to allow Guatemala to play too close to our goal and this is something that we have been working on this week and the players seemed to have understood what we wanted."
The Boyz arrived here on Monday afternoon and immediately hit the pitch at the Estadio Manuel Felipe Carrera. Since then, the technical staff has spent time on the tactical areas, cognisant of the importance of this game.
" I don't know if anyone has a different opinion, but it's so important to keep alive ourselves in the competition. We know it's a very difficult game... in adverse circumstances...
"But I believe that all the players are focused to get qualified for the next phase and it will be another step for the goal that we have, which is to get to the Brazil World Cup Finals in 2014," Montesso said.
Still, the coaching staff believes the characteristic of the host will see them relying on a certain approach, which will be difficult to change at this stage.
"They have one way to go because a draw will not be a good result for them. They have to win... and this is something we have to expect from them.
"We had Luciano Gama (coach) scouting them... and they just play straight transitions. They are not a team that makes connection between midfield and we have been showing our players footage of their games.
"They make one, two, three passes then put the ball in front. They have Pezzarossi (Dwight), who protects the ball very well because he's a tall and strong guy," he explained.
To combat that, Montesso said they will be moving from their usual 3-4-3 or 4-3-3 formation and will utilise a 4-4-2, having seen it produce more balance during Wednesday's session.
Head coach Theodore Whitmore was at press time sweating over the fitness of ace midfielder Rodolph Austin, who is nursing a twisted left ankle.
"He is good, the medical staff has been working with him. He has been training, though being prevented from certain circumstances, but today (yesterday) he will train to see how he is feeling," Montesso said.
"I think Jermaine Hue will play. He trained really well yesterday (Wednesday) trying to organise, of course we will have to see how Tramaine Stewart will do in that position (attacking midfield), but basically we have our line of four, and Mariappa (Adrian), who sat out Wednesday's session with a side injury, will be there."
Meanwhile, Guatemala's Uruguayan coach Ever Almeida believes qualification for the top two teams will go down to the wire.
"To many people's surprise we're leading the standings," he said. "That gives us a psychological life and gives us hope to be able to reach the hexagonal. So far, we've exceeded expectations," he told FIFA.com.
According to Almeida, Jamaica like to sit back and wait to strike on the counter-attack. "That suits the players they have. That's how they played against us in Kingston and I very much doubt they'll change a great deal in Guatemala," Almeida said.