Dos Santos targets JPL play-offs following boost of Brazilian flair
TUCKER, St James — Neider Dos Santos, head coach of former Premier League champions Montego Bay United (MBU), says getting to the play-offs will be the club’s first priority for this season, their third since earning promotion back to the top league in the country.
The Brazilian helped MBU finish just above the relegation zone last season when he responded to an SOS from former President Orville Powell as the club languished in the cellar position for most of the season.
Getting a chance to guide the team from the pre-season, he told the Jamaica Observer last week, and with the addition of talent from his native Brazil, he says should make them a better team this time around.
“Of course, our first main expectation is to do much better than last season…we’re looking forward to be among the top six. We know that this is a lot, true, but we started working very hard to get to the place…to be qualified [for] the play-offs.”
MBU, who will open their season against promoted team Lime Hall Academy in the first game of a double-header at Drax Hall on Sunday, won just five of their 26 games last season, drawing 11 and losing 10, scoring just 22 goals, third lowest among the 14 teams who played, even fewer than the relegated Faulkland FC.
The veteran Allan Ottey carried the scoring burden for the team last season, but Dos Santos will be hoping to improve and that Brazilian midfielders Hudson Francisco and Lucas Correa will be able to make a difference.
They are among four Brazilians who joined the team and who bring valuable “experience to the group of players”.
“However, the hard work must be continued, because that’s the only way to progress in football in Jamaica. The Jamaica Premier League, I know very well, is extremely tough and extremely balanced to see the difference and the distance between the top teams and the bottom teams, so it’s a very tough competition. We need to be at 110 per cent every match,” noted Dos Santos.
The Brazilian tactician lamented the inconsistencies in the team’s performance last season.
“Unfortunately, last season we were not always able to play that way. When I mean, play 110 per cent, the only match we [were] able to do that was against Mount Pleasant here, right after that we did not get that again, which is a shame, but that we need to do 110 per cent every match.”
While he said the new players are expected to help the team on the field, Dos Santos said they won’t be relied on to do all the work.
“They bring experience and, of course, technical quality also, right, but it’s very important to highlight that that alone is not enough. I mean the driving push is very, very important,” Dos Santos said.
MBU, he noted, must improve in all areas over last year’s performance. “All of the areas — defence, midfield and attack… we need need to improve in all of them.”
Brazilian goalkeeper William Ferreira, who has been brought in, will challenge for a starting place as will all the others.
“We have a Brazilian goalkeeper, we have a Brazilian number six, we have a Brazilian number 10,” he said, but added, “we have also players from last season”.
“We have English right fullback and English central defenders but they were already here from the last season, so they bring experience and technique but we need to push everybody to the limit you have to play on,” Dos Santos reasoned.
They will also have players from last season, including goalkeeper Davonie Burton, winger Johann Weatherly, Ahmal Nugent-Hudson, Nevaun Turner and Shavon McDonald.
He was pleased with the preparation and looking forward to the season. “The pre-season [has] been good so far to see what we have that is good and what we need to correct, what we need to improve to be very consistent in the first match,” Dos Santos ended.