Sports

Lowe urges caution as Boyz prepare to face Antigua

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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LONG BAY, Antigua — By all reasonable expectations, Jamaica's Reggae Boyz should make easy work of hosts Antigua and Barbuda in their Concacaf Nations League (CNL) match tomorrow.

In their first League B meeting in Jamaica not so long ago, the Boyz were ruthless 6-0 winners in the Group C encounter, but even with that emphatic statement, centre-back Damion Lowe opts to tread cautiously.

Jamaica, runaway leaders on 12 points, face Antigua (third on six points) at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound with the hopes of formalising their promotion to League A of Concacaf's new national competition, a spot in the Concacaf Gold Cup 2021, and to keep their unblemished record in tact.

That match is due to kick off at 8:00 pm (7:00 pm Jamaica time).

The Boyz, who are ranked third in Concacaf and 45th by Fifa, will need only a draw in tomorrow's match to put them in an insurmountable position on their quest for group honours, with the final game to come in Montego Bay on Monday.

Lowe, who plays professionally with IK Start in Norway's First Division, says while Jamaica should come out on the better side of the results, he expects Antigua to be a greater force than they were in the Montego Bay whipping.

“I think it is going to be a good game and I think we will have a good crowd, and regardless of the previous result, there is always something to prove by these teams when they come up against Jamaica, so we can't sit back and say it will be an easy game.

“For us as a team, we need to just go out there get the job done and the three points on the table…the goals will come and there is no need to force it, so we need to just stick with the basics, stick with what we have been doing to get the results in the previous games and we should be fine,” said the towering defender.

Lowe, 26, believes the final match of the CNL League B campaign at Montego Bay Sports Complex against Guyana could come with its own set of challenges.

“That also is going to be a good game, and even when we played against them in the first game in Guyana, you could see that they are a good team even though we defeated them 4-0 because they have good players.

“At the Gold Cup they did really well after creating history by qualifying for the Gold Cup for the first time. I believe they are a country and a federation on the rise, so what that says is that we have to continue to excel because if we stay stagnant these teams will catch up to us. The bottom line is we cannot underestimate anybody, because teams are always coming to beat Jamaica,” the east Kingston native told the Jamaica Observer.

In four matches of Group C on League B, Jamaica with maximum points with 18 goals scored and none against, have made them one of, if not the hottest team in the three-tier competition.

Lowe, the former Harbour View FC man, hints to the secret of Jamaica's success so far.

“As you can see we have a lot of young talent who are getting overseas exposure and experience, some of them having opportunities to play in Europe, the MLS [Major League Soccer] and the USL [United Soccer League].

“Years ago you never had so many young players getting this opportunity and having a professional resume, and all of that is helping us to push and to bring quality to the setup. Also, coach (Theodore) Whitmore knows how to get the best out of his players, and we trust him, and once you have a coach that the team trusts, the players will do anything you ask them to,” he said.

Lowe, the son of former Reggae Boyz striker and France '98 World Cup veteran Onandi, embraces the view that the CNL is not only opening doors for the smaller nations within Concacaf, but points to a clear benefit for Jamaica as well.

“The Nations League is good because if you look back at the calendar year, we never had so many international matches unless it's a tournament year…this competition has helped us to go up in the rankings, and I must say the way Concacaf has structured everything is perfect for us,” Lowe noted.

Meanwhile, the former Tampa Bay Rowdies standout says “my career in Scandinavia has been good”.

“I can say it (playing with IK Starts) has been positive. Yes, we got relegated last year, but I can say this year we are in third place so we are now in the play-offs to get promoted again.

“But it has been a good season and I am happy where I am and how my season ended and I am just looking to help the team get promoted again,” Lowe stated.

The ex Seattle Sounder FC player says while he keeps his dream burning of playing at the top rung of the sport, any move will have to be strategic.

“When you come into this sport you want to be at your best and will want to get to the next level and to play at the highest level possible.

“I am obviously happy at my present club, I am playing well, and the team is doing well, but at the end of the day if a team is interested and my club, me and my agent think it makes sense, then we move on, but if it doesn't, we are not going to make any move,” Lowe said.


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