Breaking the ice
HALL...it was amatter of beinginventive withthe sessionsso that theplayers couldget as muchout of them aspossible
Moore, newcomer Stewart absent as Boyz take to training ground

Defender Liam Moore and central midfielder Kevin Stewart were the two players missing from the 23-man Reggae Boyz squad which took to the field for their first training session on Tuesday.

Reading Football Club's former skipper Moore was expected in the island on Tuesday, while Stewart, Blackpool Football Club's newcomer to the group, is slated to arrive on Wednesday. The team will have its final practice session on Wednesday evening at National Stadium ahead of Thursday's crucial World Cup qualifier against Mexico at the same venue.

Kick-off is slated for 7:00 pm.

The Jamaicans are lying in sixth position on seven points in the eight-nation final round of Concacaf Qualification Series. The group is led by Canada on 16 points, one ahead of the US on 15. Mexico and Panama are next on 14, followed by Costa Rica on nine.

El Salvador come next on six points, with Honduras trailing the group with only three points. Each team has played eight games, with six remaining.

At the end of the qualifying series, the top three teams will earn automatic berths to the Fifa World Cup Finals in Qatar later this year, with the fourth-placed team securing an intercontinental play-off for another chance to qualify for Qatar.

Hall, a member of the Reggae Boyz France 1998 World Cup history makers, replaced teammate Theodore Whitmore as head coach last month after the Jamaica Football Federation's Technical Committee, led by Rudolph Speid, recommended Whitmore's sacking, claiming it had lost confidence in his ability to lead the team to success.

Yesterday's first practice at Stadium East was to “break the ice”, Hall told the Jamaica Observer, on Tuesday. He said most of the players in the group had already played in the qualifiers so it was just for him and his technical staff to drill into the players the type of football that he wants the team to play.

Hall said they have two hours to prepare and it was a matter of being “inventive with the sessions” so that the players could get as much out of them as possible.

“We will follow up with a lot of video sessions and video analyses, looking at games with Mexico, looking at their strengths and their weaknesses and how we can exploit them,” he said.

The former attacker, who joined the Reggae Boyz group as assistant coach at the request of Whitmore ahead of last summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, said that he was pleased with the attitude of the players at Tuesday's practice. He said they looked “switched on” and “they look like they have come here ready for the job”.

“They all know what is required,” he noted.

New boy Stewart is 28 years old and is a former player at Tottenham Hotspurs, Crewe Alexandra, Liverpool, Cheltenham Town, Burton Albion, Swindon Town, and Hull City.

The Mexicans were due in at 8:30 pm on Tuesday and are scheduled to practice at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, an hour and a half after the Jamaicans are slated to take to the field for their final workout at the game venue.

Squad: Amal Knight, Dwayne Miller, Andre Blake, Kevin Stewart, Damion Lowe, Alvas Powell, Lamar Walker, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Junior Flemmings, Peter Vassell, Devon Williams, Bobby Reid, Liam Moore, Andre Gray, Michail Antonio, Ethan Pinnock, Javon East, Gregory Leigh, Cory Burke, Javain Brown, Daniel Johnson, Ravel Morrison.

— Ian Burnett

Goalkeeper Matt Turner of the United States claims the ball underpressure from Liam Moore of Jamaica in the second half of a2021 Concacaf Gold Cup quarter-final match at AT&T Stadium inArlington, Texas, on Sunday, July 25, 2021. (Photos: Observer file)

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