First test!
Jamaica's new Coach Hallgrimsson opens account with Argentina assignment
Michail Antonio (right) of Jamaica kicks the ball as Ravel Morrison looks on during training in New Jersey on Monday. (Photo: Richard Bell)

Eyes will be fixed on national senior men's team football Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson when the Reggae Boyz take on South America giants Argentina in their friendly international on Tuesday.

The game, which will be Hallgrimsson's first in charge of the Reggae Boyz, is to be played at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey at 7:00 pm Jamaica time.

Argentina, who last won the Fifa World Cup tournament in 1986, are one of the favourites to win this year's global showpiece, which is to be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18.

However, according to Hallgrimsson, the Reggae Boyz have a lot of quality players in their line-up and, therefore, they have nothing to fear from their opponents who are ranked number three in the world.

"I am hoping that we can have chances to do something special," said Hallgrimsson.

"I know that percentage-wise, if you look at us in the last two years and you look at Argentina in the last two years, people probably don't give us much chance to get something out of this game, and so I am hoping that we can put on a good performance and that is what I am looking forward for," he said.

Hallgrimsson pointed out that he has had two full training sessions with the team so far and he is very impressed with the skills, work ethic, and attitude of the players during these sessions.

"A lot of the players really impressed me with their individual qualities. If we can make a strong unit with these individual qualities that we have, then I think we are in for a good time and that would be my task," he said.

"I know that we have some incredible talents within the team and I am hoping that they will have a chance to show their talents as it is not about that win, it is to have a good start and if not, then we at least know what we need to do to improve the team," Hallgrimsson noted.

Argentina defeated Concacaf side Honduras 3-0 in their friendly international last Friday in Miami to extend their unbeaten streak to 34 matches. Their team comprises the likes of Lionel Messi, who is regarded as one of the finest footballers the game has seen, along with Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez, and Julian Alvarez.

Hallgrimsson, famous for qualifying Iceland for the 2018 Fifa World Cup and a run to the quarter-finals of the 2016 UEFA European Championships, stated that the Jamaicans must produce a solid all-round performance in order to come away with a positive result against their opponents.

"For sure it is going to be a tough game and nobody will think otherwise and, for me, they are one of the top two teams in the world and possibly World Cup winners this year," he said.

"We did a really good defensive session yesterday [Sunday] because we implemented some basic things that we need to do against Argentina," Hallgrimssson said.

"I have been looking at the players and the options, so I have an idea as to how we should play. I think the balance between attack and defence is also what we think is necessary to play against a team like Argentina so as not to overcommit in attack and also not to overcommit in defence," he said.

Squad — Michail Antonio, Shamar Nicholson, Andre Gray, Kaheem Parris, Daniel Johnson, Bobby Reid, Damion Lowe, Leon Bailey, Ravel Morrison, Kevon Lambert, Jonathan Russell, Kevin Stewart, Amari Bell, Joel Latibeaudiere, Jamoi Topey, Javain Brown, Jamal Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Foster, Dillon Barnes, Jahmali Waite, Andre Blake, Maliek Howell and Ricardo Thomas.

HALLGRIMSSON...if we can make a strong unit with these individual qualities that we have, then I think we are in for a good time (Photo: Naphtali Junior)
Members of the Jamaica senior men's football squad take a drink break during practice in New Jersey on Monday. (Photo: Richard Bell)
Jamaica's Ravel Morrison (left) and fitness trainer Lamar Morgan during practice in New Jersey on Monday (Photo: Richard Bell)
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts (left) Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Andre Blake (centre), and JFF Vice-President Bruce Gaynor talk on the eve of Jamaica's friendly international against Argentina in New Jersey, United States, on Monday. (Photo: JFF Media)
BY ROBERT BAILEY Observer writer

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