'Tappa' wants improved performance against Costa Rica

IAN BURNETT
SPORT EDITOR
with REGGAE BOYZ
In Central America

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Still smarting from a 0-2 loss to El Salvador in the final Concacaf Nations League qualifying game on Saturday which knocked them out of League A action, the Reggae Boyz will turn their attention to today's friendly international against Costa Rica inside Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica at 8:00 pm here (9:00 pm Jamaica time).

Today's contest is of far less importance than Saturday's encounter, but Head Coach Theodore Whitmore will be hoping that his charges display much higher intensity and desire as they engage a much stronger opposition.

Jamaica ended the qualifiers in eighth place behind Haiti, Canada and Martinique, who ended their four matches on maximum 12 points; followed by Curacao (plus 20), Bermuda (plus 13), Cuba (plus 13), Guyana (plus 11) and Jamaica (plus 9), Nicaragua (plus 7) and El Salvador (plus 5), all on nine points.

The top six teams qualified for League A, where they will be joined by Mexico, United States of America, Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago and Panama, who had contested the final round (Hexagonal) of Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

However, the top 10 teams qualified for the Gold Cup to again join those from the Hexagonal.

Meanwhile, Whitmore has asked for an improved performance today for more reasons than one.

“We want to give an improved display on and off the field,” the head coach told the Jamaica Observer moments before his team headed for the match venue for their obligatory training session yesterday afternoon.

“The Gold Cup is coming up and the team did very well by reaching the finals in the last two editions in 2015 and 2017, and we don't want to drop that standard.

“I also want to give everybody here a chance to see what they have to offer which will help us in the selection of the Gold Cup squad,” he added.

While the Reggae Boyz have been engaged in Concacaf Nations League qualifying since last September, Los Ticos were left to spend their time playing friendly internationals.

In their last five internationals dating back to last October, they have lost three and won twice.

The lost 1-3 to Colombia, defeated Chile and Peru by 3-2 score lines last November, but have suffered back-to-back defeats since the turn of the year.

They lost 0-2 to the United States in February before going down 0-1 to Guatemala last Friday.

But those results will not provide any comfort for Whitmore's Boyz who have not beaten their Central American rivals for some time.

Whitmore has promised up to eight changes from the starting 11 which faced El Salvador last Saturday, and he has gone that route for a number of reasons.

Not only does he want to ensure that each member of his 23-man squad on tour experiences playing time, but he also wants to take the opportunity to examine his players as he gets closer to finalising his squad for the Gold Cup this summer.

“These are the kinds of games that we need for the players to show me what they are made of; it is not against a Caribbean team, but a World Cup team,” noted Whitmore.

He could not definitively declare his starting team and he wanted to chance to see how the players handled themselves and the system to be implemented today in yesterday's final training session at the match venue.

“We will make about eight changes from the starting team that played against El Salvador on Saturday, but I have not yet finalised the starting team because it all depends on how training goes today (yesterday).”

And unlike Saturday where he employed a 4-2-3-1 formation, today his plan is to try the 4-4-2 system, as he wants “to see how the team performs with two strikers”.

Chances are Darren Mattocks, who was red-carded on Saturday, will not see any action on the pitch.

The full squad is Andre Blake, Amal Knight, Jeadine White, Michael Hector, Damion Lowe, Ladale Richie, Jamoi Topey, Kemar Lawrence, Alvas Powell, Fabion McCarthy, Shaun Francis, Je-Vaughn Watson, Devon Williams, Kevon Lambert, Peter-Lee Vassell, Cory Burke, Ricardo Morris, Dever Orgill, Junior Flemmings, Maalique Foster, Javon East, Brian Brown, and Darren Mattocks.


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