Whitmore urges Boyz to give of their best

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Thursday, November 15, 2018

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — Theodore Whitmore, head coach of Jamaica's senior men's team, the Reggae Boyz, is not letting down his guard as the team prepares to host Suriname in their Concacaf Nations League game at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on Saturday, set to start at 7:00 pm.

At a press conference held at the Montego Bay Sports Complex yesterday, Whitmore said while lack of funding at the Jamaica Football Federation has limited his preparation for the game, the Suriname team has been in a camp in the United States since last week.

“Suriname will be a tough opponent; they have quality players and are treating their preparation for this match very seriously. They have been in a training camp in Florida since last week,” he said. “Unfortunately we have not been able to prepare the way I had requested and hoped for, as the JFF is struggling for funds, therefore we will have to do the best we can with the two days we will be together ahead of the game.”

Jamaica are one of 10 nations that have won their first two games and are on six points and are in sixth position on goal difference, and Whitmore pointed out the importance of all the games.

“The Concacaf Nations League is a very important competition for Jamaica. It's a qualifier for Gold Cup 2019, Copa America 2020 and these matches will determine which of the three divisions these countries will be placed come the 2019 edition of the Nations League.”

Whitmore announced a strong 20-man squad for Saturday's game and will have their first training session at the stadium today, while the Surinamese team is expected in the island today as well.

Kemar Lawrence of the New York Red Bulls, who was named to an American Major League Soccer all-star team earlier this week, is included as well as Philadelphia Union pair of goalkeeper and Captain Andre Blake and Cory Burke.

Former Cornwall College ace Peter-Lee Vassell will play for the national team for the first time in front of his hometown crowd and it was announced at the press conference that his father, Sonny Vassell, a former St James FA and JFF executive, would be a special guest of the JFF to see his son play for Jamaica live for the very first time.

Whitmore said despite their limited preparation time, the players must understand their responsibilities and what is at stake. “It is important that our players fully understand the need for a positive performance. My charge to them is to focus on a solid performance. If the performance, individually and collectively is good, the result will follow; we need to perform at our optimum.”

The coach, like Montego Bay's Mayor Homer Davis and JFF first Vice-President Bruce Gaynor, who both spoke before him, highlighted the importance of the fans who he hopes will fill the 7,000 seater stadium.

“We will need the support of the fans in the stadium to encourage and motivate the players, especially in the difficult moments.”

Mayor Homer Davis gave the St James Municipal Corporation's blessings for the game and says the hosting of this important match would “play a major part in further enhancing the capacity of Montego Bay to host big matches and attract large crowds”, while “reminding the JFF and Concacaf that Montego Bay is open for business and we are prepared to play our part in ensuring that we build the reputation of this city in not just sports, but in sports tourism”.

He however chided the JFF for the infrequent games and called for more internationals to be played in the western city. “We need to stop these one-off matches in our city; stop starving our patrons of good football. In other words, bring more matches to Montego Bay and I am sure the patrons will show up.”

Patrons from Montego Bay and the neighbouring parishes, he said, had nothing to worry about in terms of their safety. “We are enjoying a level of peace and tranquillity in the parish of St James and for this game on Saturday, I am expecting to see the citizens of St James and also from Trelawny, Westmoreland and Hanover coming out in their numbers to watch the game.”

The mayor hailed the success of the senior women's team in the qualification for next year's Fifa Women's World Cup to be held in France. “The girls are doing well and we expect the boys to do well also, and they can only do well if they see a big crowd supporting them.”

Squad — Andre Blake (captain), Amal Knight, Damion Lowe, Ladale Richie, Kemar Lawrence, Shaun Francis, Fabion McCarthy, Ricardo Thomas, Ricardo Morris, Owayne Gordon, Devon Williams, Je-Vaughn Watson, Peter-Lee Vassell, Alex Marshall, Maalique Foster, Jamiel Hardware, Corey Burke, Darren Mattocks, Javon East and Dane Kelly.

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