Whitmore blasts administration as Boyz end Saudi Arabia tour on high

In Saudi Arabia

Thursday, November 19, 2020

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore Whitmore is a man on a mission.

A man determined to give his team the best possible chance to qualify for the Fifa World Cup Finals in Qatar in 2022. In fact, he's hinted that he's now at his wits' end and will be demanding nothing less than for every sector of the football programme to work together for the betterment of the whole Reggae Boyz machinery.

“To be honest, it was really hard and this trip shows that a lot of things need to be done administratively. I keep hearing the saying that 'we have a good team, and we have a good set-up', but we need the team behind the team if we are going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Gold Cup and in the World Cup qualifying coming up, and there is a lot that can be taken from this trip,” reflected Whitmore in a Jamaica Observer interview, following his team's 2-1 victory over Saudi Arabia on Tuesday night.

“Administratively, we have to pull up our socks; we can't continue like this; we can't continue in this manner. Sometimes it is like you light a US$100 looking for a dollar and it really doesn't make any sense,” said the man who took charge of his 100th game as head coach on Tuesday.

The Jamaicans ended the two-game series with one victory, after losing the first encounter 3-0 last Saturday at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium.

For the first game the Boyz were at a significant disadvantage, having had a solitary training session the day before, after the team was delayed in completing its mandatory quarantine period and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

That delay ultimately prevented the team from taking to the pitch earlier. Then there was a public spat between the players and the federation over remuneration for the series, and an even more significant intervention of positive COVID-19 results which ruled players out and dented the mental well-being of many others.

Also for the first game the technical leader was forced to start the game with three relatively inexperienced players based in Jamaica who had not played a match since March.

“We come on tours like these and we get away with stuff [good results or performances] and as a result, we feel like this is the way to go, and it can't work like this now because we have the Costa Ricans, the Americans, the Mexicans, the Canadians, the Panamanians…they are all preparing themselves, and at the end of the day, it's easy to point fingers — the coach, the coach, the coach,” continued Whitmore.

“Come on! Everybody has to pull up his socks if we mean business. I want to [vent], but to be honest I want to be fair to the administration. I would rather say it to them first before [going public],” he added.

Whitmore added that prior to the game on Tuesday, he had asked Team Manager Roy Simpson to organise a meeting with the Jamaica Football Federation hierarchy at soonest, for them to “sit and talk”.

In reviewing the series, Whitmore admitted that he was pleased with the manner in which the players handled themselves under difficult circumstances.

“Not the results, but how the players handled themselves,” he said.

Whitmore was also happy with the performances of the three new professional players — Ravel Morrison, Daniel Johnson and Gregory Leigh.

“Very pleased with what I have seen from the three players, Ravel, Greg and Daniel, and for him [Daniel] to get a goal, it is very good. They showed that they wanted to be here. Leon [Bailey] also, his attitude today [Tuesday], and not just in the game but before, it was a different Leon, a leader.

“He was getting the guys to know that 'hey, listen, we have to go out there and we have to perform. We have to make a statement', and even after the game what he said to the team — 'this is a sign of greatness to come' — so at the end of the day, on their part, I think they are doing their best, but we have to do our part, as well,” noted the former Reggae Boyz star player, who scored two goals in helping Jamaica beat Japan 2-1 in the nation's lone victory at the global showpiece event back in 1998.

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