In the lion’s den, Boyz fear not
Jamaica face fiery Panama in must-win World Cup qualifierFriday, September 02, 2016
Sanjay Myers Sport Reporter with the Reggae Boyz IN panama world cup QUALIFIERS
PANAMA CITY, Panama – Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Andre Blake says Jamaica hold no fear for Group B rivals Panama, despite not beating that country at the senior level since 2009.
The teams clash 8:30 tonight in the CONCACAF semi-final round World Cup Qualifier here inside Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
Since that 3-2 victory at home in a friendly international in June of 2009, Jamaica have lost three times and drawn twice in five encounters.
Three of the five were World Cup-qualifying games, with the most recent coming last November when Panama romped to an accomplished 2-0 win in Kingston.
"They are a good team and we respect them, but we don’t fear them for sure. We have to go out there and impose our game and stick to our game plan and not worry so much about them," Blake told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
And it is a game the Jamaicans, who are third in the group on four points, just have to win to reel in Panama, who are second with seven, behind leaders Costa Rica (10). Haiti are last with a point.
"We want those three points at the end of the day... it’s tough Probably half of Jamaica don’t believe in us right now, but we have to do what we have to do and make Jamaica proud," said the custodian, who plays for Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.
Blake, the usual first-choice goalkeeper for Jamaica in recent times, was mysteriously left on the bench as Duwayne Kerr stood in goal during the first-leg loss.
The 25-year-old said he took the disappointment like a true professional.
"It was very tough, but it’s about teamwork. Whether you’re in the 11 or on the bench you have to do whatever you can to motivate the guys and support whoever is playing, because at the end of the day, if we lose it’s Jamaica losing and if we win it’s Jamaica that’s winning," he explained.
If given the chance today, the six-foot, one-inch tall ‘keeper said he is ready for the challenge and eager to line up with his teammates in battle.
"It’s a big opportunity to play against a very good team. Every time I touch the pitch, whether it’s for my country or my club, it’s always about doing my best. As a ‘keeper I’m unlikely to score, so my job is to stop the other team from scoring. If I get the chance, that’s going to be the priority. Once they don’t score then we can’t lose the game, and hopefully we can get a goal or two and come out with the win.
"It’s about teamwork and the more you can communicate with the players in front of you, the better it is, especially when you are playing in a [noisy] stadium. The good thing is that they are all guys who I’ve played with before, so we just have to go out and get the communication going," he told the Observer.
– Sanjay Myers
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