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Skipper Andre Blake praises 'dynamic' Reggae Boyz

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Though they have experienced a difficult start to the Fifa World Cup 2022 Concacaf Final Round Qualifiers, Captain Andre Blake has made it clear that the Reggae Boyz are ambitious and have always wanted to do well.

From the first six games of 14 in the eight-team final phase, Jamaica secured just one win away to Honduras on Wednesday night, two drawn results against three defeats, as they were rooted at the foot of the points standing for the first five rounds of games.

But after opening with consecutive defeats, including a humiliating 0-3 result at home to Panama, the tide seems to have changed, somewhat, and Blake is happy with the upward trajectory.

“Very proud of the boys tonight (Wednesday),” he told the media. “We had a very dynamic group out there and the way that we started the game wasn't the way that we finished the game, but we were able to as a team, including the coaching staff, analyse and realise that some things weren't really working so we had to make some adjustments. So once we made those adjustments we got settled into the game and we fought,” he explained.

The Philadelphia Union number one goalkeeper added: “It was a scrappy game but we matched their intensity and then at moments our football took over where we were able to get some passing and get some possession of the ball, so overall it was a good night, a very big three points, and I'm proud of the boys; they did a great job, and now we just have to keep buliding on this momentum and move forward.”

Jamaica started poorly and were lucky to survive the early onslaught when Anthony Grant generously gave away possession of the ball well inside his area; there were, however, enough alert defenders to thwart the danger.

Heach Coach Theodore Whitmore made an adjustment with a tactical change and it worked as the visitors soon found a foothold in the game and eventually wrested control which manifested into the creation of goal-scoring chances.

Kemar Roofe took the first one on 38 minutes when he deflected a Shamar Nicholson goalbound shot out of the reach of goalkeeper Luis Lopez. It was no more than Jamaica deserved.

The home side returned more determined to salvage something from the game and forced the Jamaicans to defend deep into their half, but again Whitmore made adjustments and Oniel Fisher was on hand to make the game safe with the second goal.

It was the first time Jamaica had defeated Honduras in Honduras, and only the third time winning a World Cup qualifier in Central America. They had done so against El Salvador in 2004 and Nicaragua in 2015.

Blake says the group remains ambitious and it is now a matter of riding the momentum going forward.

“We have a group that we are not just here to be here. We want to play, we want to do well for our country, our family and friends and for ourselves, and we have ambition. We are a group that the more time we get together the better we tend to play, so we are starting to build some confidence and momentum at the right time, at the right moment, so we just have to keep the group together now and keep building, keep pushing and stay hungry, and hopefully we can go on a run from here on and continue to get some points,” he said.

With Wednesday's 2-0 victory, Jamaica moved up to sixth in the table on five points, the same as El Salvador, with Honduras at the bottom on three points.

Mexico lead with 14 points, followed by the USA on 11, Canada on 10, Panama eight and Costa Rica on six.

The top three finishers earn automatic berths to Qatar World Cup final next year, with the fourth-place team booking an Inter-Continental play-off for another shot at Qatar.