Hockey tailspin

CAC late group change disrupts Jamaica's tactical plans

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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B ARRANQUILLA, Colombia — Jamaica's expectations for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games senior men's hockey competition have been thrown into a tailspin because of a change in opponents.

The last-minute alterations have thrust Jamaica into preliminary competition against a completely new set of countries –— which are also stronger than the original set — and have significantly disrupted their plans.

“We were good in preparation until the last two weeks [when] we heard that our zone had changed. So that kind of shook up the team a lot because we were preparing for teams that we knew we were going to play and then to hear that the zone had changed, we had to get back to the drawing board and get a different preparation for that. It's a short period of time,” lamented Kishawn White, captain of Jamaica's senior men's team, at the Games Village in Barranquilla yesterday.

“It really and truly took a toll on the team… but we've some senior players on the team who are still staying focused and helping the team to move forward,” he added.

The Jamaicans, who advanced as champions of the November qualifying series in Kingston, were drawn to face Guyana, Mexico and the Dominican Republic in first-round play. It was pointed out that their whole preparation included studying videos and working out their strategy for the slated opponents to a tee, including selecting starting teams for each match and what set pieces to use in each game.

“But just before the tournament we hear that we've been switched to a zone with Cuba, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago,” observed White vof a shift that occurred due to the withdrawal of Guatemala. The result has placed the top-ranked teams in the same group.

“This zone is a 'Zone of Death'. Most people are calling it the Hockey World Cup, so we're just going out there to do our best.”

In spite of the circumstances, White has not given up hope of finishing among the tournament's top two and advancing to the Pan Am Games.

“We've played these teams before and we're going out there to do our best,” he said. “We've to go out there and take it a step at a time. We've Barbados in our first game so we'll have to take maximum points and then the other two games, when we face Trinidad and Cuba. Those are two very tough games, so we've to go out there, take maximum points from Barbados, and we'll see where we go from there.

“Our primary goal is to finish second in this competition so that we'll get to Pan Am Games.”

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