GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala —“Be patient and calm because we are going to get the job done.”
That’s the message to Jamaicans from a confident Theodore Whitmore, head coach of Jamaica Reggae Boyz, following his team’s final practice session on an artificial surface at a community field here last night.
“I’m confident, we are on a mission and we don’t want the train to derail here because we are aware of the situation...our backs are against the wall as we have three teams on seven points, so we are looking forward to the game,” added the former Reggae Boyz star player who notched two goals in Jamaica’s 2-1 win over Japan at the France 1998 FIFA World Cup Finals.
Last night the Boyz were scheduled for a 45-minute practice at the Mateo Flores Stadium, venue for today’s 8:00pm (9:00 pm Jamaica time) kick-off against Guatemala.
But due to constant drizzle, the organisers aborted the session in an effort to protect the playing surface.
Instead, the Boyz were allowed a few minutes to walk the Mateo Flores pitch and a community facility, some 30 minutes away, was quickly identified and arrangements made for its use.
The practice was very important as it was used as a fitness test for two players — Rodolph Austin and Adrian Mariappa — and in the end both failed. Austin nonetheless practiced throughout and even had a stint on the starting team in the latter stages.
However, it was obvious that he was still favouring his left ankle, which he twisted while playing for his English League Championship team Leeds United against Barnsley on Saturday.
Mariappa did warm up exercises but was soon pulled to the sidelines when the team started the tactical session.
Shavar Thomas, who has been deputising since Mariappa suffered a rib cage injury after colliding with goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett on Tuesday evening, will take the starting spot.
Meanwhile, today’s starting 11 will see three changes from the last game against the USA in Ohio.
Apart from Thomas, Harbour View’s midfield ace Jermaine Hue earns a starting berth in the four-man midfield, while Demar Phillips, who scored the opener in Jamaica’s 2-1 triumph over Guatemala in Kingston on June 8, returns from injury after missing the last two encounters against the US.
The starting 11 reads: Dwayne Miller in goal, guarded by Thomas and Nyron Nosworthy in central defence; Phillipps at left back and Lovell Palmer at right back. Jason Morrison and Jermaine Taylor will anchor the central midfield, with Hue and Je-Vaughn Watson entrusted with the attacking roles, while captain Luton Shelton and Ryan Johnson will be charged with getting the goals.
“I’m very positive and I’m looking forward to the big one tomorrow night (tonight). We have a few injuries here and there but that’s a part of football. We have depth in our squad and we are looking forward to the game,”