Reggae Boyz braced for historic show
JAMAICA’S senior footballers are in high spirits ahead of this evening’s top-of-the table World Cup qualifying showdown with the United States at the National Stadium.
The Reggae Boyz, tied with the USA on four points in the four-team group, exuded confidence they can turn the tables and pull off a first ever victory over the Jurgen Klinnsman-coached unit.
England-based defender Adrian Mariappa, who recently sealed a move to top-flight outfit Reading FC, said the Jamaicans have the tools to get a historic win against the group favourites.
“It’s a confident feeling heading into the game. Everyone is looking forward to it. Obviously, they (the USA) are many people’s favourites, but we are gunning for them.
“They are coming to our hometown and we want to put on a good show,” he said during Tuesday’s practice session at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Technical Centre.
The son of a Jamaican mother and a father who hails from Fiji, the 25-yearold said he is confident in the quality of coach Theodore Whitmore’s squad and added that he enjoys playing alongside former Watford teammate and fellow Reggae Boy Nyron Nosworthy.
“There is quality here and a lot of these players play in foreign countries and are doing well in those countries. Being here in training I can see the quality. It’s of a high standard and I’m delighted to be part of this team.
“I’ve played with Nyron for a little while now. We have a good understanding of how each other plays and we will be giving our best if given the chance on Friday (today),” Mariappa said.
After today’s meeting, the US and Jamaica will resume rivalry in the return fixture next Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.
At the end of this group stage, the top two teams will advance to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Lovell Palmer, a player also looking to push into the starting XI, said the Boyz have “destiny” in their hands and the chance to be the sole group leaders since the other two teams — Guatemala and Antigua & Barbuda — are locked on one point each.
“We are both tied on four points. It’s a home game for us which we should use to our advantage. We don’t want to go to Ohio thinking we have to win. We have to take destiny in our own hands and get maximum points here.
“Everyone is really excited. We know we need to create history. We need to get points from the game. Everyone is happy to be part of the squad and players want to be in the starting team that is to create history.
“I’m sure anyone will be excited to score or help to keep a clean sheet against USA to give us that historic victory,” an upbeat Palmer said.
The utility player added that the players have drawn inspiration from the performance of the Jamaican athletes during the London 2012 Olympics and the incentive to do well in the 50th year of the nation’s Independence.
“We are waiting for a chance to go out there and make Jamaica proud. It’s our 50th anniversary and we saw what the Olympians did and we want to top it off with a great victory here against the USA for the first time.”
Meanwhile, central defender Jermaine Taylor echoed the comments of his teammates and told the Jamaica Observer that Jamaica will take this clash against the CONCACAF powerhouses “seriously”.
“It is very important (to win). It’s a big game for us. It’s a World Cup qualifying game leading up to Brazil 2014. We all know we haven’t beaten the United States and it’s all on us to go on the pitch and do whatever we have to do to get this victory....
“The spirit is high in the camp and the vibe is right. We just want to get out there and do well... We have to take it seriously and try to get the positive result here at home. When we go into their backyard it is going to be even tougher, so we have to use the home advantage,” Taylor reasoned.
Finland-based defender O’Brian Woodbine told the Observer that winning at home tonight is essential.
“The hopes for the game is just to go out there and do our best and try and win the game. We have a good chance of beating the USA team because it doesn’t matter who the US bring, Jamaica has a good team too ... physical, tactical... in every way.”
The 24-year-old, who was part of his Finnish club’s HJK 2011 season, believes the Reggae Boys have a chance to take the reins and no one can predict the outcome.
“History can be made,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to beat the US. You can beat the US in the US so you never know what can happen.”
Darren Mattocks, who made his senior debut in a friendly game against El Salvador in Washington last month, was optimistic his experience playing with the Vancouver Whitecaps in the US Major League Soccer would come in handy in today’s game.
“It’s a pretty even-keeled calibre, so I think it should be a good match-up,” Mattocks said, adding that tonight may be the night history is made.
“I think it’s our best chance yet (of beating them), especially up front. We have some very dangerous guys, but I think most of the attention should be focussed in the middle of the field.
“Once we can win the battle in the middle of the pack, I think the guys up front will take care of business,” he said.