Demystifying 'Superman' Lowe's midfield role in Japan

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

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NAGOYA, Japan — When Damion “Nana” Lowe was deployed in the centre of midfield in Monday's friendly international against Serbia in Kobe, a few eyes popped.

Even more, some watching from the sidelines questioned the logic of the move by Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore.

On review, it was a decision that was both gutsy and strategic. The coach wanted an experienced, tough-tackling, quick-ball winner to act as a wrecking ball against a Serbia midfield bloated with quick-moving and creative players.

Among the influential Serbs are Manchester City-owned Ivan IIic who is out on loan, Sevilla's Nemanja Gudelj and Porto's Marko Grujic.

By fair estimation Whitmore's brave plan seemed to work, for Lowe was restricting these ball players before they had a chance to conjure any tricks.

In testimony to the success of the experiment, the Boyz dominated the first half by controlling the midfield, thus seeing them take the lead in the 1-1 draw. Watford FC striker, the bustling Andre Gray, sent the Boyz ahead in the 29th minute, but the Serbs came back in the 61st minute through Strahinja Pavlovic.

Lowe, the Al-Ittihad defender, effectively did the dirty work in there, a job he claimed he was proud to do for the sake of the team.

But much of a superman as he was in character and deed, his show of force came at a price: He ran out of “kryptonite” and was substituted in the 71st minute by ball artist Ravel Morrison.

“As you could see, the engine is not used to playing there and my body, from a fitness level, didn't react as well as I wanted as it is more demanding playing that position than centre back. All in all, I thought I did an okay job and I am satisfied,” Lowe told the Jamaica Observer.

He said when he was asked by the coach to play outside of his customary role he did not flinch, but rather took grabbed the challenge with both hands.

“The coach asked me to play a role as I am one of the most versatile players in the team…I played there when I was younger but of course, the experience doesn't go away because once you are a good footballer you should be able to play any position.

“But it was good, as the coach said he wanted someone in there to break up plays, cover ground and to close spaces to impact Serbia because they are a footballing team that likes to play between the lines – and I felt like I did that well today [Monday],” said the lanky footballer.

Whitmore was largely pleased with the captain's response, giving him a passing grade.

“As you saw, one of our better centre backs [Damion Lowe] had to play in midfield this afternoon [Monday]. “He was playing out of his usual position…we asked him to do a job and he came in there and made his presence felt because he put in some tackles inside there, and that was pleasing,” he noted.

Reflecting on the broader game, Lowe, 28, thought Jamaica was dominant for the most part and were only second best when Serbia adjusted its formation.

“I think midway the second half they took over because they changed the formation and we stuck to our game plan, which was pressing them high, and it didn't work.

“But after, we sat in and took over the game– especially with the fresh guys coming in. But in the first half we put in a good shift and dominated,” he stated.

Lowe, who spent almost three years at Norwegian outfit IK Start, thought the Boyz deserved a pat on their collective backs for their effort, given the numerous off-field issues that threatened to undermine the technical programme here in Japan.

“All in all, we take a plus from the game because despite all the obstacles we had to deal with as a team, with little recovery time and stuff like that, it was a good shift from the guys and I am happy with where we are at.

“But of course, there is much to improve on and, of course, there are a lot of guys to come in as we are not at full strength yet. If we can do this to a top 25 team [Serbia] now, we can do much better with other players to come,” Lowe ended.