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Sports

'Great job, but...'

Boyz skipper Andre Blake laments complacency in 4-0 win over the Cayman Islands

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

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While commending his team on a comfortable 4-0 win over the Cayman Islands in their Concacaf Nations League opener on Sunday, Reggae Boyz goalkeeping captain Andre Blake was not entirely pleased with the manner in which the team got the job done.

Darren Mattocks in the second and 58th minutes, and strike partner Cory Burke in the 34th and 66th minutes, struck for the Reggae Boyz, who could have won by a much wider margin had they been more clinical and disciplined in their overall output.

Blake believes indiscipline crept into the team's performance which resulted in the players lowering their standard of play to meet that of their overmatched opponents.

“I think the guys did a great job having been asked to play on Friday, fly home on Saturday and then play tonight (Sunday). It wasn't an easy task, but I think the guys did a great job,” Blake told journalists at a post-game press conference inside the National Stadium at game's end.

“I think after scoring the first goal, the guys realised that it was probably not going to be a tough game and they kind of dropped to their level, which is something that we are going to have to work on.

“We have a very good group of guys and in games like these, we have to be able to put in a professional performance and put the game away so that we can be able to give the younger players valuable minutes,” he added. The Jamaicans took complete control of the contest from the kick-off when Mattocks darted to the left near post to flash a bullet-like header out of the reach of goalkeeper Ramon Sealy, after Kemar Lawrence had delivered a wicked cross, to match decent build-up play.

The DC United front-man had two decent opportunities to add to the lead approaching the half-hour mark, but he spurned them both, lobbing Sealy with the second but as he wheeled away to celebrate, a retreating defender cleared off the goal line.

However, shortly after, Burke, who now stars for Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer, slotted home left-footed after play-maker Peter-Lee Vassell picked out Owayne Gordon on the left with a pinpoint diagonal pass, but Gordon mistimed his shot on goal and Burke cleaned up to put Jamaica further ahead.

On the stroke of half-time, Burke thought he had netted again, but turned away in agony as Sealy tipped his goal-bound header over the goal frame from Jamaica's best build-up play which included a number of deliberate and penetrative passes.

Mattocks grabbed his second on the night when he headed home powerfully from Adrian Mariappa's right-sided cross.

And Burke also completed his double when he slotted home after neat interplay with substitute Javon East. That was the least significant involvement from East, who was later forced out of the game due to injury with 11 minutes to go, and leaving Jamaica a man short, as they had already used up their three allotted substitutions.

Blake saved his team from conceding an embarrassing goal, as he advanced well to smother a Cayman Islands break-away chance, even as a few of his defenders were caught out of position bombarding their opponents' goal with the game nearing its end.

“It happens sometimes like I said before, we kind of dropped our standards to their level, but for me, as the last line of defence I have to always be ready to make a play and on that note, I was able to do that.

“But again dropping our standards is not something that we would want to continue doing when we play opponents who are not as strong, and so that is definitely something that we are going to gather the guys (to talk about) and something we build on going forward,” the Philadelphia Union goaltender reasoned.

Also, Blake, in his reflection of the match, saluted the input of younger generation players Peter-Lee Vassell, who again displayed a great degree of confidence over another 90 minutes, and substitute Alex Marshall.

“The future looks good; we have a very good group of young players coming up and even though the schedule was pretty tight, I think games like the Ecuador game are very critical to get the young players in to get their feet wet, so they know what it takes at the next level.

“They can only get better from games like these [Ecuador friendly] and then you can see the difference in their play and the confidence when they face opponents who are not as strong,” Blake noted.

He continued: “Once we can continue to get quality friendlies (they will develop). Obviously, sometimes you are not going to win because the coach wants to try different stuff and that is where Jamaica has to be patient, because you have to find ways to incorporate the younger players and obviously it is a learning process, a building process and I think we are moving in the right direction. We have some very good players and we just need to keep pushing forward.”

Meanwhile, Cayman Islands goalkeeping captain Ramon Sealy took heart in his team's performance as he conceded that they were completely outplayed.

“Jamaica did really well, they came out and played their game, the early goal really set us back a little bit because we had a game plan and that was to try and keep them out and limit them to see how much we can frustrate them.

“But at the end of the day, I felt like we could have done a bit more in terms of keeping possession of the ball, but that is how football is. So we just have to move forward to the next game now,” Sealy said.

The game was one of 68 in the qualifying phase which will be conducted during the FIFA windows of September, October and November this year, and next March.

Jamaica will next oppose Bonaire in Curacao in October, then return home to face Suriname in November, then closing out away to El Salvador next March.

The top-10 teams on points — of the 34 Concacaf participants — at the end of the qualifying phase will join the six teams which contested the 2018 FIFA World Cup Hexagonal — Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, United States of America, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago — in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Teams: Jamaica – Andre Blake, Michael Hector, Ladale Richie, Darren Mattocks (Romario Williams 68th), Cory Burke, Je-Vaughn Watson (Javon East 62nd), Peter-Lee Vassell, Owayne Gordon (Alex Marshall 62nd), Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence, Damion Lowe.

Booked: Burke (90th)

Subs not used: Amal Knight, Jeadine White, Fabion McCarthy, Ricardo Thomas, Tevin Shaw, Ricardo Morris, Fabian Reid, Kevon Lambert

Cayman Islands – Ramon Sealy, Joshewa Federick, Tyler Leo, Jermaine Wilson, Wesley Robinson, Colby Seymour, Mark Ebanks, Michael Martin, Christopher Reeves Tevin Yen 73rd), Lucas Christian (Tevon Levien 31st), Kyle Santamaria (Darvin Watson 57th)

Booked: Watson (65th), Wilson (79th)

Subs not used: Shakur Welcome, Brian Martin, Rohan Williams, Giovanni Bush

Referee: Bryan Lopez Castellanos (Guatemala)

Assistant Referee 1: Pablo Ramirez Perez (Guatemala)

Assistant Referee 2: Humberto Panjoj Chitay (Guatemala)

Fourth Official: Mario Escobar Toca (Guatemala)

Referee Assessor: Abilio Perez Foumier (Cuba)

Match Commissioner: Norris Ferguson (Trinidad and Tobago)

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