Watson, Taylor credit inexperienced Boyz despite Saudi loss

Sunday, October 08, 2017

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JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia — It is often said that experience is the best teacher, and although the Reggae Boyz were beaten 2-5 by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their friendly tier-two game here last evening, two of their most experienced players are of the view that some amount of good would have come out of the game.

Je-Vaughn Watson, who captained the team on the night inside the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium, and veteran defender Jermaine Taylor, who started on the bench, believe that the younger players would have gained immensely from the experience of playing against such a high-quality team, well known as one of the superpowers of Asian football.

“I think we got a lot of positive out of the game because a lot of the guys came on and did well,” said Watson, who played the entire 90 minutes.

“They (younger players) would have got a lot because when you play teams like this ,which is in the World Cup already and playing together for a long time, they are very well organised. And we are going to do a lot of running if we are not playing in our right positions and if we don't win our one-v-one battles,” added Watson, the soon-to-be 34-year-old New England Revolution veteran Major League Soccer player.

He reflected that his team started slowly and even after restoring parity with a Jamiel Hardware strike on 35 minutes, the Boyz immediately gave up a goal to return pressure on themselves.

Salem Al Dawsari opened the scoring in the second minute, before Hardware replied. However, Hazza Al Hazza put the home team back in front three minutes later, before Salman Al Farj opened a two-goal lead on the stroke of half-time.

Immediately upon the resumption Mohamed Al Berik extended the lead, and though substitute Marvin Morgan cut the deficit in half, Abdulah Al Joui wrapped up things for the Saudis in time added.

“We didn't start off very well and in the first half we conceded some goals. We came back in the game but gave up another goal immediately; but it is a young team anyways, so we have to give and take.

“The second half we came out very well and we injected some more experience in the back with Taylor (Jermaine) and that was good, but chasing down a lead of 4-1 it was always going to be tough to come back,” noted Watson.

For the 32-year-old Taylor, who plies his trade with Minnesota United FC in Major League Soccer, Head Coach Theodore Whitmore could have opted for more experience in the balance of his team against such high-quality opposition.

“I think overall it is good to give guys exposure and experience but for this game, coming off a long travel and in an environment like this I think we should have gone for some more experience, at least in the back or in the middle of the field,” he said.

He added: “However, I think the guys gave their best effort and it was just that we got outplayed in terms of quality and everything. But it is still a learning process and it is going to take time for everybody. It is a young group and I'm not sure if this is the direction we are looking (at), but it is alright, it is good. But at the same time we have to mix some youth with experience, and I think that would have helped us tonight if we had started or gathered more experienced guys on the field.

“But saying that, I give credit to the guys; they fought, and that is one of the things you are going to need at the international level.

“When you look at the result it doesn't reflect on how we played, because I think we put the ball down and tried to pass it around.”

Taylor said that he had planned to discuss the game with his teammates, particularly the younger members of the team, in an effort to help them understand that keeping the ball at this level is paramount.

“If you want to play at the international level you must have respect for keeping the football, and you saw it tonight. When they had possession of the ball we had to run around and press the ball and hence use up a lot more energy, so that is one thing they need to understand now at this level. So hopefully, we learn from this and move forward,” he ended.

—Ian Burnett




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