National senior team football vice-captain Damion Lowe believes the Reggae Boyz's upcoming friendly international matches against Qatar and Jordan are crucial to their preparations for the Concacaf Gold Cup this summer.
The Jamaicans are set to face Qatar on June 15 and Jordan on June 19 at the Wiener Neustadt Ergo Arena in Austria.
The Reggae Boyz have twice advanced to the Gold Cup final — in 2015 and 2017 — but were eliminated at the quarter-finals at the last edition in 2021, losing 0-1 to eventual champions, the United States.
Lowe, who has been a mainstay in the national side over the past five years, said that both matches are vital for the senior Boyz.
"These games are important because going into a tournament, we need to have at least played consistently together and work towards our game plan and preparation," said Lowe.
"Everyone wants to win and a win will definitely give us some momentum going into the tournament, but I feel like our main focus should be creating an identity, understanding our system and becoming familiar with our teammates," the veteran player said.
Lowe, who is a tough-tackling defender, has made 48 appearances for the Reggae Boyz since making his debut against Guyana in 2016. He is currently plying his trade in major League Soccer for the Philadelphia Union, which is also the club of fellow Reggae Boy Andre Blake.
Lowe, who is the son of outstanding former national player Onandi Lowe, said he is looking forward to representing the country in both matches as well as the Gold Cup tournament.
"It's always an honour and joy to play for Jamaica, so every time I get a call up I am happy and look forward to the upcoming camp," he said.
Reggae Boyz Head Coach Heimir Hallgrimsson told the Jamaica Observer in an interview last week that the players should use both friendly matches as an opportunity to cement their spots on the team for the Gold Cup.
"The games are equally important as every training from now until the Gold Cup," Hallgrimsson said.
"These matches won't give you any points, but for the players they are important because they will be fighting for their spots on the team for the Gold Cup. I hope we can have a strong team in this preparation and I hope we can get close to finding a Gold Cup squad in these matches," he added.
"I am optimistic that we will do well in these two matches, but the most important thing is that we use them well for preparing for the Gold Cup. This is our only preparation for the Gold Cup, so we will be taking them very seriously, for sure," he said.
The 2023 Gold Cup is scheduled for June 24 to July 16 in the United States and Canada.
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