Boyz defender Bell disappointed with early Gold Cup exit
...Looks to Qatar World Cup qualifiers with gustoThursday, July 29, 2021
BY SEAN A WILLIAMS
Reggae Boyz newcomer Amari'i Bell would not dare, under normal circumstances, exhibit the audacity to speak for the team.
But after being knocked out of the Concacaf Gold Cup at the quarter-final stage on Sunday night in Texas, the Luton Town left-back could not hold his tongue.
Bell says he speaks for the entire team in expressing his disappointment at the Boyz's early exit from the tournament when they crashed 0-1 to the USA at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Sunday night.
“I am very disappointed, and I think I speak for all the squad when I say that because we thought this was a great opportunity for us to go far into the tournament, and even to win it, but that didn't happen,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
The former Blackburn Rovers defender says Jamaica was a victim of football's savage nature, that even with the best of games, the tide of the scoreline can flow against teams.
That was most evident in Jamaica' 0-1 defeat to Costa Rica in their final Group C match in Orlando last week Tuesday. They dominated the match through ball possession, sway, and goal-scoring chances, but ended up on the wrong end of the result.
Against the USA on Sunday, they also played a decent match and had chances to win it. Yet again, they underperformed on the scoring end.
“But that is football, which can be cruel sometimes,” said Bell, who has now accumulated five caps for Jamaica.
He said the mood in the dressing room after the game was one of gloom. There were even a few tears here and there.
“Everyone was very down, as we thought we could have won the game, and we had chances to win it, but when you don't take your chances, and you concede, then this is [the outcome].
“In tight games like that you need to be resilient as one mistake can cause a goal, and I think that's what happened. For most of the game, though, we were good defensively and we created some good chances too, but I think in the final third we could have been better,” said Bell.
Bell, who did not figure in Sunday's fixture, says the team needs to regroup and getting ready for the World Cup qualifiers that start in September.
Jamaica open their Octagonal campaign with an away match against Mexico on September 2.
“We just have to take it [Gold Cup] as a learning curve and just move on to the World Cup qualifiers.
“We are looking at the qualifiers as a great opportunity to qualify for the World Cup, which we all believe we can do. We just need to believe it more, and once we believe, anything can happen,” said the former Fleetwood Town man.
Bell, 27, said it was time football gave Jamaica something great to celebrate again. He would have been only four years old when the Boyz made their historic appearance at France '98.
“It would be amazing as we have not qualified for a long time now, so it for us to now go out there in the qualifiers and show that we mean business,” he asserted.
Looking back at his own performance in the Gold Cup, Bell conceded that he could have offered more.
“I thought I did alright, and I am not going to say they were my best performances…I definitely believe that I could have contributed more attacking wise, but defensively I thought I was good,” he noted.
Bell started the group matches against Suriname and Guadeloupe, where the Boyz were 2-0 and 2-1 winners, respectively. He was a 60-minute sub in the Costa Rica match.
Boyz and Gold Cup veteran Kemar Lawrence started the Costa Rica and USA games as Head Coach Theodore Whitmore rotated players over the four games.
For the first time in a spell, the coach has options on his defensive left side. For Bell and Lawrence, a healthy rivalry is brewing as they jostle for that precious starting position.
Prior, it was a shoo-in for Lawrence.
“I love the competition because it allows you to raise your game. Obviously, both of us want to play, but the main goal is to qualify for the World Cup, and if we can do that and one of us must sit out sometimes, then I will be happy either way,” reasoned Bell.
Lawrence's playing style embodies speed, an educated left foot and efficiency in offence and defence. Bell, for his part, is very defensive minded, very disciplined in keeping tune with the back-four formation and oftentimes has to be lured into coming forward.
The former Birmingham City lad says he is now looking forward to returning to preseason with new Championship outfit Luton Town, the club of black legends Ricky Hill and Brian and Mark Stein.
“I have high expectations with the club. I had three days with them before I came to the Gold Cup, and there was a lot of quality there.
“The club finished mid-table last season, but that is something we want to build on and we have a great manager [Nathan Jones] who believes he can take us [to success],” bell ended.
The English-born Bell qualified to represent Jamaica through his grandparents who were from Elizabeth on his mother's side and Clarendon on his father's.
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