Reggae Boyz take aim at Guyana

...Look to maintain impressive form in Concacaf Nations League

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Deputy Sport Editor

Monday, September 09, 2019

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GEORGETOWN, Antigua — Jamaica's Reggae Boyz, with their 'tail' in the air, look to keep their good form rolling when they take on hosts Guyana in their second match of Group C for the Concacaf Nations League B today.

The top-of-the-group clash is slated for Leonora Track and Field Centre in the Georgetown, capital of Guyana,with kick-off set for 6:00 pm (5:00 Jamaica time).

Jamaica lead the group of the Nations League second tier on three points, the same as today's opponents, but with a vastly superior goal difference.

Guyana, ranked 25th by Concacaf and 178th by Fifa, managed only a modest 1-0 win over Aruba in Curacao on Friday, the same day Jamaica (ranked fourth in Concacaf and 52nd by Fifa) blew away Antigua and Barbuda 6-0 in picturesque Montego Bay.

But with battle-weary soldiers to be assessed and the quick turnaround between matches, plus the drudgery of travelling down through the eastern Caribbean and onto the South American mainland to Guyana to contend with, the Boyz have to focus on the best path to full recovery.

At last evening's training session at the match venue, which was expected to be light at best, Jamaica coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore had a plan in mind.

“There are [a] number of things we want to look at because we played Friday night so the recovery will be important; and this evening's [yesterday's] session we will look at who are injured because at the end of the day we have 22 players so we may have to inject fresh legs for those who didn't play 90 minutes — so let's see how that goes.

“Clearly, there is not much we can do at the session because of the travelling, so we will place stress on recovery [methods]. As you know, I am not a coach who likes to complain, I just like to find the solution — so that will be our focus at training,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer prior to last evening's exercise.

The Boyz coach, by tone and the reality of his situation, appears set to make a few changes to those who started the match on Friday.

Whatever he decides, it is expected there will be roles for goalkeeper captain Andre Blake, and defenders Adrian Mariappa, Damion Lowe, Alvas Powell and Kemar Lawrence. Any shake-up would likely come from the midfield and the front group, but in that event, Jamaica should be able to retain their potency in attack.

An interesting touchline sidebar to this evening's match is that Whitmore will be crossing paths with an old friend in Brazilian Marcio Maximo, who coached the former Jamaica star during his playing days at Scotland's Livingston FC.

Unfazed, it will be business as usual for Whitmore as he opposes Maximo, who recently took the reins of Guyana.

“He coached me at Livingston and it is someone I know very well and he is a good coach, but at the end of the day we have a job to do and that is the focus.

“In this Nations League we don't want to get carried away by anything, as we know the importance of it. Because, at the end of the day, it's a tournament that will qualify us for the 2021 Gold Cup so there is a lot at stake to build our programme for the World Cup qualification.

“The bottom line is there is a lot at stake and there is no room for complacency, so we are looking forward to having a positive result against Guyana come tomorrow [today],” Whitmore said.

Looking back at Friday's opening encounter of the Nations League, the Jamaica tactician expressed mixed reactions despite the impressive margin of victory.

“I am somewhat pleased with the performance and the result was okay, but I think we still have a far way to go as there are still some areas that we could have done better in.

“On Friday night as a team we needed to know how to kill off the game because I think a bit of complacency set in the last 10 to 15 [minutes], and so that is an area I am not pleased with. Also, we created numerous opportunities that we should have put away, but such is the game,” Whitmore said.

Having five scorers on the scoresheet on Friday, with three of them getting their maiden goal, “was a plus” for the coach, so too the link-up play between the attacking cast.

“I think it [players scoring for the first time] is important as it will build their confidence going forward…one of the things I was pleased with in the game on Friday was the combination between players, because at the Gold Cup I think we were more individualistic — so for me that was a good sign seeing Bobby Reid, Leon Bailey and Shamar Nicholson involved in the combination plays, and that was a plus for me,” Whitmore noted.

Along with Nicholson, who bagged a brace, Bailey, Reid, Brian Brown and Peter-Lee Vassell were also on target.

In four matches against Guyana, starting in 1991 through 2016, Jamaica have won all.

Jamaica (from): Goalkeepers Andre Blake, Jeadine White, Amal Knight; defenders Fabion McCarthy, Alvas Powell, Shaun Francis, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence; midfielders Kevaughn Isaacs, Andre Lewis, Leon Bailey, Chavany Willis, Bobby Reid, Je-Vaughn Watson, Peter-Lee Vassell, Alex Marshall, Devon Williams; forwards Dever Orgill, Shamar Nicholson, Brian Brown and Junior Flemmings

Guyana (from): Goalkeepers Alex Murray, Akel Clarke, Quillan Roberts; defenders Sam Cox, Sherwin Skeete, Kevin Layne, Raphael Edwards, Matthew Briggs, Liam Gordon; midfielders Neil Danns, Clive Nobrega, Daniel Wilson, Delwin Fraser, Stephen Duke-McKenna, Ryan Hackett; forward Kelsey Benjamin, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Pernell Schultz, Terell Ondaan, Sheldon Holder


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