Boyz coach says show must go on despite field concern
Workmen on Thursday attach the net to one of the goalposts ahead of Saturday's international friendly match between Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James. (Photos: Paul A Reid)

CATHERINE HALL, St James — While both saying they are not satisfied with the condition of the field at the Montego Bay Sports Complex for Saturday's international friendly against Trinidad and Tobago, Reggae Boyz Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson and the field's caretaker Aubrey Duncan say they will have to make do.

Hallgrimsson, who will be coaching the team in Jamaica for the first time, has been critical of the state of the playing surfaces in the country, including the one at Catherine Hall.

The contest on Saturday will be the first in a two-match series. The teams are to meet again next week at the National Stadium.

"The field is what it is and we will play on it ready or not, but I have been watching and they have been working; I am not an expert on grass, so let's trust the guys who are the experts in that area," Hallgrimsson, who said he had been to the venue a few times to monitor the progress of the work, told the Jamaica Observer before Thursday's training session.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz Head Coach Heimer Hallgrimsson inspects the football field ahead practice at Montego Bay Sports Complex in St James on Thursday. (Photo: Paul Reid)

Hallgrimsson, who headed straight to the field after his arrival and closely inspected some areas, said his approval did not matter now on the eve of the game.

"It does not matter if I am happy or not. It really is irrelevant if I am happy or not, we will play on this grass, so we will train on this grass and we will be ready when the game starts.

"It can be better, and it is correct when they say it probably needed more time and that is for others to say why it was in the condition that it was in, it is not mine to say."

Duncan told the Observer he was not happy with the field but said it was much better in a lot of ways than when the Jamaican women's team hosted Paraguay there last November.

"We would not be happy with the state of the field as it is not at 100 per cent, which is where we want to see it, right now it is about 65-70 per cent. But the game has to go on and we have to bite the bullet on this one, let the game play and afterwards we will continue the work we have been doing."

Richard Vernon, the deputy mayor of Montego Bay, had said a week ago that the municipal council, under whose portfolio the facility fell, was not given enough time to get the field ready for major events.

Duncan agreed with the deputy mayor.

"That's correct because you have to bear in mind if we decide that we are going to work on the field in terms of fertilising, burning the weeds and those things, we have to shut down the field. So when we start doing those things, especially at this time of the year when we don't have grass growing properly, you are always going to have that problem when you only have a three-week window, you cannot get the grass back in three weeks time."

He reiterated that the field is much better than it was last year.

"The footing is much better and we have been rolling it and will continue to roll it up to Saturday morning. A lot of the areas are now fully grassed, the only areas we are having problems with are the areas that were sprayed in the last month, those areas have not grown back properly."

PAUL A REID Observer writer

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