Andrew Price weighs in on Boyz' performance in Saudi Arabia


Andrew Price weighs in on Boyz' performance in Saudi Arabia

Observer writer

Saturday, November 28, 2020

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After watching Jamaica stumble their way through the first game and then man-handling Saudi Arabia in their second encounter of the two-match friendly recently, Humble Lions FC Head Coach Andrew Price believes that valuable footballing lessons would have been learnt on the trip that should help the Reggae Boyz, come 2021.

Price was philosophical in his assessment of how the players acquitted themselves in the first game, under difficult circumstances.

“They say that sorrows teach a lesson well, and I think the situation for the first game, in which Coach Whitmore only had 13 players available up to two hours before the game, gave a lot of the fringe players an opportunity to actually get a start.

“So, that gave them an opportunity to go out there and wet their feet and play some international football and we saw several players making their debut and actually starting for the first time for the national team. They did as well as they could in the circumstances, but I really think that we saw the mettle of Jamaica's team in the second game,” said Price.

The veteran thought that the availability of more of the professionals for the second game made a huge impact and went on to name a few that he thought stood out for Jamaica in the 2-1 win.

“I think we had the more seasoned pros playing in the game and they looked a good lot, and for a team that had only about two training sessions together, I think they looked very good.

“People like Ravel Morrison stood out, Johnson also stood out, [and] I like the left back [Gregory] Leigh, he also stood out and a lot of the newbies really put in a good shift. I think Leon Bailey had one of his better games in a national shirt. I think Leon played very well and he brought a lot of zest to the game and even Javon East, playing as that lone striker up front, was very penetrative and he really ran his heart out for the entire 90 minutes.”

Based on what he saw after the second game, Price is convinced that Jamaica is on the right path and Head Coach Theodore Whitmore should be nearing a squad in his mind that will be able to achieve success next year.

“All in all, I think the second game we definitely proved our worth and proved that we are a better team than we had shown in the first game. We could have won by a wider margin had we not missed some sitters in front of the goal, but I think it's a good look and it's a good platform for the future.

“I think Coach Whitmore is slowly but surely getting his 40-man core group of players together, and eventually with the Gold Cup and the World Cup qualifying to come mid-2021 I think that we are in good stead to try and qualify for Qatar 2022,” noted Price.

A hard-nosed, rugged defender in his playing days, the Reggae Girlz assistant coach says that he still has a few concerns with the heart of Jamaica's defence that he would like sorted out.

“One of the things I think we need to look at is our central defensive pairing. I think we need to look at four centre halves, two pairings that we can use on a rotational basis that we are going to use for both the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying,” stated Price.

Concacaf qualifiers will begin next March during the next Fifa window, but seeded Jamaica will begin their qualifications in June at the final stage.

Price also pointed out a number of players who were unavailable for the games in the Far East and says that their addition will make Jamaica a force in the region.

“We also have to take into account that we had several players that were not available for one reason or another. Captain [Andre] Blake was not available, Corey Burke was not available, Shamar Nicholson, because of COVID, wasn't available, Junior Flemmings wasn't available. So, we have a lot of players that didn't play and we were still able to put in a very good performance against Saudi Arabia. When we get that nucleus together, I think that we definitely have a team that shall be reckoned with in the Concacaf region,” he concluded.

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