Duckie views first leg as a tactical battleTuesday, September 21, 2021
Built on the back of a rock-solid defence, Vere United have exceeded all expectations in qualifying for the knock-out phase of the Jamaica Premier League this season, and that is what served them well last Saturday against Tivoli Gardens.
The hunt for a place in the semi-finals continues on Wednesday with the second leg of this contest.
In a game of few chances, neither team was able to break down the other's solid defensive lines ending in a goalless, but nevertheless intriguing encounter at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.
Despite not being able to nick one of the few chances that they created, Head Coach Donovan Duckie remains upbeat about his team's chances of advancing to the next round.
“We have a positive mindset and we still have to maintain a positive outlook going into the second half of the game. The second half is the last leg, so we are going to prepare for that.
“[Saturday's] game was a keen encounter, it was a tactical battle. I thought both teams understood what both teams had to offer,” he said.
Duckie admitted that his players were almost caught out by the fast start by Tivoli Gardens, but he was happy with the way they responded as the game went on.
“They started the game very aggressive, at a high pace. We weren't able to cope for the first five to 10 minutes, but afterwards we settled. We matched them physically, hence our quality started to show in terms of the pace and the dynamism that we played with in the final third, hence we created one or two good chances.
“I thought we should have been on the score sheet. It didn't happen for us, but we still have to be grateful. The first half of the battle is 0-0, so we look forward to the next one,” he said.
Most of the players on the Vere team have never played in post-season football in the premier league and the veteran coach revealed that there were some nerves ahead of the kick-off, especially with the weight of expectations put on the players by their fans.
“There were butterflies in the changing room, jitters for most of the players. They have not achieved this before; it is a huge history; the entire Clarendon is riding on their back. A lot of fans across Jamaica, and the world, have been saying good things.”
Duckie has called on his players to lift their game, as that is what is required at this particular stage of the competition.
“We have been consistent throughout the league, so it's for them now to adapt to this stage and understand that this is not regular season football. This is what you call battle for the cup, so if you want something more than I want it, that means you have a head start over me. So, we have to want it as bad as they want it, then the quality will separate us,” he reasoned.
He praised the players for what they have been able to achieve defensively, and the spotlight that it has brought to the club, and urged them to use it as a platform to achieve even greater things, both in the long and short terms.
“We have to say congrats to the guys for conceding the least number of goals in the regular season. I'm sure there's an award for that, and kudos to the club for securing that. This is something solid to build on for the long-term project, but in the interim we have to continue to maintain our composure and use that as motivation and see if we can get some goals,” he concluded.
Vere, who have scored the least number of goals of all the teams in the top six, have not scored since match week seven and will need to find at least one goal on Wednesday if they are to continue on to the semi-finals.
— Dwayne Richards