MBU to continue with youth in upcoming JPL season
Montego Bay United's Ewan Barton (left) lunges in to challenge a Waterhouse FC player in Sunday's Jamaica Premier League pre-season practice game played at Irwin High School in St James.(Photo: Paul Reid)

TUCKER, St James — FORMER champions Montego Bay United (MBU) are expected to continue trusting their youthful players when the Jamaica Premier League season kicks off in the next couple of weeks.

Even with the rehiring of veteran coach Donovan Duckie and the signing of several senior players, the club that finished at the bottom of the points tables last season is expected to continue the rebuilding process through the youngsters.

Despite losing their first "real test" in the preseason, going down 1-0 to Waterhouse — in a game moved from Wespow Park, that was flooded out by heavy afternoon rains, to Irwin High School on Sunday — Duckie was pleased with the performance of his players.

"I am very surprised at how we played today; it was a masterclass in my mind," he told the Jamaica Observer West, quickly adding "If we were finishing, we were all over them; we got six clear chances to score."

DUCKIE… myself and the president felt that we should continue the rebuilding (Photo: Paul Reid)

Duckie, who had started the 2015-16 season before leaving midway, only to see MBU go on to lift a second title in three years, said he and club president Orville Powell had decided that building through the youth was how they wanted to proceed.

MBU have signed a few players but the coach said, "I had the option of getting more senior players in the squad but myself and the president felt that we should continue the rebuilding, try to get the players from last year to matriculate to a different level so we try to integrate about five or six senior players to solidify a core.

"But, I am very pleased because even with what I just saw, it speaks volumes of what we are doing," added Duckie.

Among some of the faces seen on Sunday who were not in the team last season were Allan Ottey, who was part of the two winning teams; Johann Weatherly and Donovan Brown who have had stints at MBU; Kevin Graham who was at Mt Pleasant last season; as well as striker Rodave Murray who played at Dunbeholden FC, also in the last season.

Duckie, who was at Vere United last year, said while MBU currently have a big squad of over 30 players, he used just 17 players in the game on Sunday.

"We are trying to use a core of 17 players. We have about 31 players but we still try to use that core to simulate what it would be like in a game, and I am impressed with the measures that we have put in and how far we have come since we started," he told the Observer West.

Duckie, who took over the team five weeks ago, will create club history if he gets the start he wants.

"We need to put some points on the board. In anything there must be short-, medium- and long-term goals, so the short-term goal is to start well and put points on the board," he reasoned.

MBU have never won their opening game in the Premier League but the coach said after the start, "We have to ensure that we are not relegated at the end of the season and, hopefully, we can compete for a top six spot — and then anything can happen from there."

BY PAUL A REID Observer West writer reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

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