Chasing victory

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

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SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Jamaica's Reggae Boyz will make another attempt to gather maximum of three points in their flagging World Cup qualifying campaign when they face hosts Honduras here at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano today.

The kick-off is slated for 6:00 pm (7:00 pm Jamaica time) at a venue that seats over 37,000 spectators.

Both teams are desperately in need of points as they remain the only teams yet to win a game after five rounds of the 14 home and away fixtures.

In other games on today, the United States, still smarting from a 0-1 defeat to Panama on Sunday, look to make amends when they host Costa Rica at Field at 6:00 pm; Canada host Panama at BMO Field at 6:30 pm; and El Salvador entertain Mexico at Estadio Cuscatlan at 9:05 pm.

Mexico lead the eight-team points standings with 11 points. They are followed by USA and Panama on eight, Canada and Costa Rica on six, El Salvador on five and Honduras on three. Jamaica remain rooted at the foot of the table with two points.

Though failing to garner a maximum of three points against Canada on Sunday, Head Coach Theodore Whitmore was pleased with the fact that his team managed to keep a clean sheet for the first time in five games in the campaign, and that is something he's hoping to improve on going forward.

He will again be undermanned as Alvas Powell was forced to withdraw due to a grade one tear of his left hamstring, while Jamal Lowe of AFC Bournemouth in the English Championship returned to his club as per an agreement brokered between the Jamaica Football Federation and the club for him to participate in two games only.

However, the Reggae Boyz will welcome back central defender Damion Lowe, who sat out Sunday's game while serving a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation.

The Boyz gave as much as they got against a high-quality Canadian team on Sunday and, had fortune favoured them, could have possibly stolen all three points in the second half when Junior Flemmings struck the goal frame, and Kemar Lawrence looked on in anguish as goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau tipped a fierce left-footer around his left upright.

San Pedro Sula is regarded as one of the most violent cities in the world and today the visitors can expect no favours in terms of niceties from the hosts. The Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano is expected to be a very hostile environment with 11 aggressive rivals to confront. Whitmore is hoping that his players will be able to focus solely on the men directly in the contest with them, and nothing more.

“We have to blank out what the Hondurans do outside. What we have to do is control what we do for 90 minutes, and that is where our focus will be. We are aware of what they can offer, but for us, it's all about the 90-plus minutes,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, ahead of the team's obligatory practice session at the match venue.

He added: “The first 15 to 20 minutes of the game, it is going to be important, and what we want to take into consideration is that they are at home, they are desperate like us, so I think they will leave some spaces for us to capitalise on and it is just for us to make use of those areas when they are presented.”

Absences for varying reasons have plagued the Jamaicans for this October international window, but Whitmore and his staff have steered clear of any excuses and found a way to make do with limited resources.

He was pleased with the character shown by his players and is calling for more of the same today.

“We continue to fight and we want to improve on the last performance despite not scoring and getting three points. We know it is going to be a tough game playing in Honduras, but I think we are up for it.

“One of the things we have to take into consideration is that we are without a number of players. Just recently we lost Alvas (Powell) and Jamal (Lowe) went back to his club, so another downsizing of the squad, but we continue. We remain resilient about the task at hand and we continue to fight.”

For Reggae Boyz fans the former star midfielder asked for calm and patience, as they are still in with a shot at qualifying, however, slim that may be.

“Remain calm, it's a tough campaign, tough start to the campaign, but we are not far off and just a little bit of patience [is needed],” he said.