Jamaica's Head Coach Theodore Whitmore knows that his players need to retain the ball a lot better if they are to turn their fortunes around in the Octagonal.
The Reggae Boyz are currently sixth in the final round of Concacaf World Cup football qualifying with six points from seven outings. Their opponents at the National Stadium in Kingston today, the United States, are all of eight points ahead to lead the eight-team standing.
During their three losses to date — away to Mexico (1-2); at home to Panama (0-3); and away to United States (0-2) — they surrendered possession and plenty of territory to their opponents.
“We conceded in the last couple of minutes of the game. It could be a number of factors which we don't want to get into,” Whitmore told journalists on Saturday when the team returned from El Salvador where they drew 1-1 with the hosts.
“I don't think we managed the game properly, especially at the end. The USA game we have to get three points, and that's where we are looking at the moment,” he said.
Whitmore said he wants his team to be more dominant in midfield.
“We need to take care of this football in terms of possession... I think the first half of the game [against El Salvador], we didn't have people showing for the [ball],” the Boyz coach said when the Jamaica Observer caught up with him after Sunday morning's training at the National Stadium.
“But after the introduction of [Devon] Williams and [Ravel] Morrison, then we started to keep the game flowing, started combining [plays], started joining attacks and all of that. It's something in this morning session we looked at it. We did some possession, so we just hope to have better possession against the US team,” he told the Observer.
While in September they were woefully disjointed against Panama, the loss at the daunting Azteca Stadium to Mexico days earlier was particularly irksome for the Reggae Boyz. They had been on course for a share of the spoils at 1-1 until they conceded a second goal in the 89th minute.
Against the Salvadorans at the Estadio Cuscatlán on Friday, they were set to escape with all three points after Michail Antonio's fabulous 82nd minute strike, but gave up a goal eight minutes later.
“In Mexico we gave away [a late goal]. It [would have been] a well deserved point to get out of that game. And if you look at [Friday's] game we dropped two points, so it's something we seriously have to consider and look into.
“It's for us as the technical staff to see how best we can come up with the right master plan to get past this US team,” Whitmore said.
In the regional qualifying table, Mexico (14 points) are second behind the USA due to an inferior goal difference. Canada (13 points) are third, followed by Panama (11) in fourth. Costa Rica (six), Jamaica (six), El Salvador (six) and Honduras (three) round out the trailing pack.