Reggae Boyz ring changes for Costa Rica clashTuesday, July 20, 2021
SEAN WILLIAMS AT THE CONCACAF GOLDCUP in USA
ORLANDO, USA — There is a major shake-up in the Reggae Boyz starting 11 for today's final Group C match of the Concacaf Gold Cup against Costa Rica at Exploria Stadium.
Seven players seem set to get their first start of the tournament, as those who played leading roles thus far will help the team from the bench this time around. Other starters from the previous two matches may not see any action at all.
New to the starting line-up are centre back Adrian Mariappa, left back Kemar Lawrence, right back Oniel Fisher, midfielders Devon Williams and Tyreek Magee, plus strikers Andre Gray and match-winner Junior Flemmings.
Goalkeeper Andre Blake, the team's skipper, reprises his starting role, so too central defender Damion Lowe, plus the midfield pair of Daniel Johnson and Leon Bailey in a formation that appeared 4-3-3.
Today's fixture featuring the 45th-ranked Boyz and 50th-rated Los Ticos kicks off at 7:00 pm (6:00 pm Jamaica time].
Head Coach Theodore Whitmore said several factors drove the technical staff's decision for the shake-up, chief of which is to safeguard a key players who are one card away from suspension with the quarterfinal match-up to come.
“We have to take a number of things into consideration, [and one of them] is that we have players here on cards.
“But I am confident that they [new starters] will give one hundred and ten per cent [as] they know what we need and what we are looking for,” he said.
The other match of the double bill sees Group D campaigners Panama and Grenada, who flew in from Texas, crossing swords in their final match at 9:00 pm (8:00 pm Jamaica time].
Guadeloupe and Suriname, the other Group C teams, will meet in their consolation game at BBVA Stadium in Houston, Texas, to decide minor placings. Match time is 7:00 pm (5:00 pm Jamaica time].
Jamaica, like Costa Rica, have progressed to the quarter-finals with six points from two games, the same as the Central Americans.
The Boyz had wins over Suriname (2-0) and Guadeloupe (2-1) to spur them on to the quarter-finals where they will face either USA or Canada from Group B in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday.
Even though the Boyz go into today's contest with the peace of mind that they have already achieved target number one — which was to progress to the knockout stages — they look to end their group campaign on a high.
Assistant Coach Paul Hall, who took the lead in yesterday's training session at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, said the work continues to get the team to a state of all-round high-quality football. Whitmore took part in the early part of the session before he had to run off for a Concacaf-organised press conference.
“You want to play yourself into some kind of form, getting to know each other, understanding that we want to progress with confidence and a level of performance we want to achieve,” said the France '98 veteran who recently joined the Boyz family.
“The level of the mindset has to be high, no matter what game you go into. I think everybody goes into a game wanting to win.”
Hall, who is on furlough from his substantive post at Queens Park Rangers, argues that even though the team is already through to the final eight of the competition, the winning mentality should be nurtured as the country targets its first Gold Cup title.
“The [first] objective has been achieved [reaching the quarter-finals], but you want to go into the next game confident so you can go into the following one with confidence [as well],” he told the Jamaica Observer.
The former Rushden and Diamonds striker says it matters little to the programme who the Boyz face in their knockout match on Sunday.
“It doesn't matter which one we face as we have to beat these teams to be able to solidify our place in the [Gold Cup] and if you want to win it. We don't really care whether it's Canada or the USA, and we don't have anything to fear.
“What we have to do is try and control what we do as they bring what they do, and it will be two big teams coming together [in the end],” Hall stated.
The coach tackled the matter of the team's midfield, which has come under scrutiny for not impacting the game enough.
“In terms of not doing so well, I suppose the [weak areas are] cohesion, the movement off the ball sometimes, giving up possession quite easily, the finishing – and I think those are some of the things we can improve on.
“However, we are getting chances. Even though we are giving up possession sometimes, even though the overall level of performance could be better, we are still getting chances – which is very inspiring and encouraging,” he noted.
Hall said there is no such thing as the perfect game, but teams inspire to produce it. Jamaica, he says, is no different.
“There is no game that is ever perfect and there is no training session that is perfect, and it would be nice to be dominant all over the park. But this is a group of young men who knows how to go out and get a result and they don't give up easily – which is key,” Hall ended.
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