Commitment and teamwork front and centre going forwardSaturday, October 16, 2021
Many who had all but given up hope after the poor start to Jamaica's Concacaf qualifying campaign for the Fifa World Cup in Qatar next year are naturally euphoric following Wednesday's 2-0 win in Honduras.
The win pushed the Reggae Boyz to sixth in the eight-team group with five points. They are ahead of El Salvador on goal difference. Honduras are on three points, at the bottom.
Traditional Concacaf giants Mexico are at the top with 14 points, USA are second with 11, Canada with 10 are third, with Panama next on eight, while Costa Rica are fifth with six points.
Obviously, Jamaica will need to make up ground if they are to be among the chosen few at the end of the qualifying campaign next year. Readers may recall that the top three in the qualifying tournament will be going to Qatar automatically. The fourth-place team will be involved in an “intercontinental play-off” with a team from another confederation — home and away — for an additional spot.
The Jamaica Football Federation's technical staff will have to be very strategic with a view to gathering as many points as possible.
They are now contemplating the next Concacaf qualifying window involving two games for each team on November 12 and 16. The Reggae Boyz will travel to El Salvador on November 12 and four days later will be at home to the USA. Hopefully by then, COVID-19 allowing, vaccinated fans will be in the National Stadium to provide that crucial '12th man' for the national team.
The conventional thinking in home and away campaigns is that teams strive to win at home and avoid defeat away. After a poor start to their campaign 20-odd years ago, that was how the Reggae Boyz famously fought their way to a spot in the World Cup finals in France.
But given their good record against El Salvador, dating back to the 1990s, the Jamaicans should have a right to feel they can steal an away win against the Central Americans on November 12, just as they did against Honduras on Wednesday. At bottom line, they will know that they must not lose to El Salvador.
And four days later the Jamaicans should be eyeing maximum points at home against the Americans. We speak of maximum points, even while recognising that they must strive to keep their fancied opponents from scoring. Again, at bottom line, a draw is always better than a loss.
It seems to us that to achieve their goals, coach Mr Theodore Whitmore and his technical staff should stick to the core principles of encouraging teamwork. That, we believe, we have seen more and more of over the last four games, with players getting to understand and trust each other.
We recognise that the odd introduction of a new face, or a returning player previously forced out because of injury or otherwise, will be necessary from time to time.
However, the smart thing now must be to stick to the core squad, the tried and proven, those known to be totally committed, in the interest of team work.
We all already know from everyday life that nothing beats those qualities.