'Tappa' plans to ring the changes against Japan Olympic teamFriday, June 11, 2021
NAGOYA, Japan — Jamaica's Reggae Boyz will close out their two-match tour of Japan with a friendly against the hosts' Olympic team on Saturday.
The match slated for Toyota Stadium, the home ground for J-League campaigners Nagoya Grampus, is scheduled to get under way at 1:30 pm (11:30 pm Friday Jamaica time).
Organisers of the match will allow 5,000 spectators into the 44,000-capacity venue in strict observance of coronavirus social distancing protocols in a country battling a fourth wave and a new variant of the virus.
The 45th-ranked Jamaicans, who gave a command performance in their 1-1 draw with 25th-ranked Serbia on Monday in Kobe, south-west of here, were originally scheduled for three games on their tour of Japan.
That fixture against the senior Japan team was cancelled as the Boyz were unable to field a full team as they had challenges getting about 11 players into the country on time for one reason or another.
But from a team development standpoint, Boyz Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore plans to give playing time to those players who have yet to taste action here and starting roles for those who figured as substitutes in the Serbia show.
“We have players here who haven't played, and for them to come this far and not play, then it would make no sense,” said the Jamaica coach.
Whitmore stated that even though many of the subs will be promoted to the starting line-up, he is banking that the team will be able to replicate the spirit in which Monday's match was contested.
“We don't want to take anything for granted as we want to go into this game in the mindset of the last game and we want to progress [in our development], so regardless of the persons who go out there, we want them to give good accounts of themselves,” he noted.
With only 19 players at his disposal — three of them goalkeepers — it means that quite a few who started in Monday's fixture will reprise their roles on Saturday.
Whitmore had originally planned to take 30 players to Japan and had he been successful with that number, then he would have the luxury of fielding completely different teams in the games.
The France '98 World Cup standout for Jamaica says a having so few players have impacted his training programme for Monday's game and certainly for Saturday's encounter.
“There is not much to write home about [in terms of our preparation] as the things we wanted to do and achieve [were difficult] as we only have a complement of only 16 outfield players, so we have to try our best to make things work with what we have,” he lamented.
Whitmore said he has been reviewing tapes of recent matches of the Japan Olympic team and continues to analyse them with the hopes of mapping a game plan.
“Personally, I had a look at the last game they played, so we would know some things about them. By tomorrow [Friday] we will put some things in place as to how we want to approach that game.
“When we sit and look at the Japanese team [a little closer], then we will get a better sense of how we want to approach the game this Saturday and then we will implement that in the training come tomorrow [Friday],” he reasoned.
In Friday's final training session ahead of the game, there will be a more focused approach to tactical details.
In Thursday's practice at Nagoya Port Stadium, which is 30 minutes from the team's hotel, Whitmore took his players through a light-hearted activity session.
“It was more like a fun activity session because the players, technical staff and everybody else here are under a lot of mental stress in terms of being locked down in the hotel.
“We just wanted to get out here this evening [Thursday] and have some fun to take their minds off everything else and just enjoy themselves, and we did just that and I think we achieved the objective,” Whitmore said.
Yet to taste action on the tour are English-born goalkeeper Dillon Barnes of Queens Park Ranger and Cavalier FC custodian Jeadine White.
Also, the midfield pair of Harbour View's Luca Levee and Mount Pleasant's Kevaughn Isaacs are yet to get their first kick.
The quartet, by all indication, should have their collective thirst quenched today. Also El Salvador-based striker Kemal Malcolm, midfielder Ravel Morrison (unattached), Wigan Athletic defender Curtis Tilt and Phoenix Rising utility man Kevon Lambert, who were substitutes last time out, should have more prominent roles today.
Other members of Jamaica's lean squad are goalkeeper Dennis Taylor (Humble Lion), Captain Damion Lowe (Al-Ittihad), Oniel Fisher (LA Galaxy), Liam Moore (Reading FC), Amari'i Bell (Blackburn Rovers), Wesley Harding (Rotherham United), Adrian Mariappa (Bristol City), Devon Williams (Miami FC), Javon East (Santos de Gaupiles), and Blair Turgott (Ostersunds).
Japan's team, an Under-24 development squad, possesses quality within its ranks in the shape of captain, Sampdoria defender Maya Yoshida, Getafe midfielder Takefusa Kubo and VfB Stuttgart midfielder Wataru Endo.
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