Real Reggae Vibe

Coach Whitmore pleased with improved Boyz display

Thursday, October 17, 2019

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WILLEMSTAD, Curacao – That's more like it, and that's what Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore was expecting after his much changed-up side smashed six past Aruba in their Concacaf Nations League Group C of League B match inside Stadion Ergilio Hato Tuesday evening.

Tuesday's rendition of the Reggae Boyz band was particularly pleasing to the coach, who was left dissatisfied with the previous offering, a laborious 2-0 result at home last Saturday.

“I think it was a good overall performance,” beamed Whitmore at game's end on Tuesday night.

“We would have improved from the last game we played against Aruba in Jamaica and there were a lot of positives tonight, with a number of players scoring for the first time — a young Lamar Walker, (Chavany) Willis, Maalique Foster, Junior Flemmings.”

Whitmore made a total of six changes to the team which started against Aruba last Saturday, and deployed a more attacking 4-1-4-1 formation, instead of the 4-2-3-1 he employed the in the previous meeting, and although the hosts attempted the same defensive strategy, they were hit early and often in the first half hour.

It was evident that the Dutch-speaking Caribbean players were susceptible to wing play from the first meeting and it was from one of those plays that Jamaica took the lead when left wingback Shaun Francis went to the byline and tried to play the ball across, only for it to be blocked by the hand of a defender and Costa Rican referee Ricardo Araya had no choice but to award the free kick from 12 yards.

Chavany Willis took the opportunity to notch his first senior goal for Jamaica from only his second game after just seven minutes.

Ten minutes later, Foster volleyed home beautifully from slightly right of the penalty area after Francis' right-sided corner was partially cleared.

And within two minutes, Walker, in only his second game at this level, broke from midfield and was fed a neat throughpass by Foster and the youngster made no mistake, rounding goalkeeper Eric Abdul to make it 3-0.

Shamar Nicholson, who scored the second goal last Saturday after missing a penalty earlier, got in on the action on minute 34 when he reacted quickest to stab home a parried effort by Abdul from Willis' rasping drive.

Desperate to get on the scoresheet, Flemmings headed one into the net from a corner, only for a foul to be whistled against Nicholson in the led up to the strike.

But the former Jamaica College player only had to wait two minutes into the second half to notch his first for Jamaica, when he outsprinted the defence on the left to slot home, and Foster completed a double on 53 minutes when he tapped home at the back post from Francis' teasing cross.

Flemmings had another ball rifled into the net, but this time it was ruled out for offside, as Nicholson got a boot to the direct shot on goal while being on an off-side position.

“I think overall we moved the ball much quicker than we did in Jamaica. We don't want to take anything away from them, but the Aruba team are a disciplined and more organised team and we were able to break them down this afternoon, and I think that's a plus for us.”

The coach was also vindicated for his decision to introduce six players, while still maintaining fluid play.

“As much as possible we try to balance the squad, and we did just that. I am happy for Amal Knight because he's been around for a long time and at some point we have to take some risks and I saw it fit tonight to give him a chance, and he grabbed it, so a lot can be taken from this game,” Whitmore said.

And he was most satisfied with the middle of his team, their positive approach and willingness to bomb forward.

“The middle of the park with Willis, Lamar, because what we did we deployed a 4-1-4-1 formation because if you look on the Aruba team they tend to sit back, so we didn't play with two number sixes (defensive midfielders) this afternoon. We were attacking, we had numbers in and around their third of the field and it paid off for us. The flanks were crucial because a number of goals came from wing play.

“We saw Francis and and Flemmings overlapping on the left, and Maalique Foster and Alvas Powell on the right, and bringing the strikers into play and that was an area that I was most pleased with today.”

However, like any hard task master, Whitmore also had his fair share of displeasures.

“I think at times we got carried away because we allowed the Aruban team, especially in the middle of the park, too much space. So that was the area I was not pleased with this afternoon… too many through passes we allowed, and again not to take anything away from Aruba, if we had played against a better opponent, it would have hurt us.”

Tuesday's win left Jamaica one point away from sealing group honours and automatic qualification to the next Concacaf Gold Cup Tournament, while further securing a place in the hexagonal for the Fifa World Cup qualifiers.

Jamaica lead the four-team Group C with maximum 12 points, followed by Guyana and Antigua and Barbuda on six points, with Aruba pointless at the foot of the table.

The competition continues next month with Jamaica up against Guyana at home and then away to Antigua and Barbuda a few days later.

For Whitmore, it's now all about planning for those games.

“We have to take a lot of things into consideration, as most of our players ply their trade in the USA with MLS (Major League Soccer) and USL (United Soccer League) teams, and that season is coming to a close now, so we have to sit and analyse who are the players who are out.

“I know for sure that Alvas will be back in Jamaica, so it is for us to sit and set up some camps and see which clubs we can deploy some of these players to, to keep them active and in shape.

“So after tomorrow's (yesterday) meeting, then we will see where we go from there and how we approach these two games going forward,” explained the coach.

So for the last two games Whitmore has said that he was very pleased but not satisfied because “we missed out on a number of scoring opportunities, because the game could have easily be four or five in Jamaica, and again, we missed some easy chances tonight, but it is an area where we are getting goals, which is a plus, but when we play these games we need to put away these simple chances,” he ended.


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