March 3rd, 2012
The results are nice; even sweeter when they are wins in away matches. But what is even more satisfying for head coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore is the fact his Reggae Boyz are getting more time together.
“It’s nice to be winning away from home. Our World Cup qualification begins in a couple of months so it’s very nice, the feeling is good,” said Whitmore upon the team’s return yesterday, following their sojourn in New Zealand, where they beat the All Whites 3-2 in a friendly international football encounter on Wednesday.
“We’re pretty pleased with what we’ve seen. We’re looking forward for more. The time we spend together, that’s more critical at the moment,” added the coach, whose team played three matches from Wednesday to Wednesday, winning all three.
They had beaten Cuba 1-0 in the first of a two-match series at the National Stadium on Ash Wednesday, then travelled west to St James for the second contest, which they won 3-0 at Montego Bay Stadium on Friday night.
The following morning, they were en route to New Zealand, a near three-day trip.
If ever the phrase ‘whenever it rains it pours’ seemed apt, that eight-day run summed it up perfectly for the Jamaican senior men’s team, which had seen a prolonged period of inactivity – more than three months without a practice game.
The ones prior weren’t so great, in terms of results, either, with losses against Honduras (2-1), Colombia (2-0), Ecuador (5-1), China (1-0) and the United States (2-0) that stretched back to July.
The period of inactivity had coincided with a three-month FIFA ban on Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, Captain Horace Burrell, on ethics violations spewing from the presidential elections cash-for-vote scandal that rocked the sport.
With CONCACAF World Cup qualification looming, the Boyz are active again and Whitmore, besides team preparation, is testing new and old players as he builds a squad for the elimination series.
In Wednesday’s game, three local-based players – Xavian Virgo, Navion Boyd and Tramaine Stewart – scored, each netting their first international goal.
“It augurs well for the programme to see three of our local Boyz find the back of the net and I’m very pleased with their performance,” he said.
“It was more of a gutsy performance when you take into consideration the travelling and everything. I think we were a bit organised, but as soon as we got to the latter part of the game that’s where we started to lose our shape, the organisation and concentration began to go,” Whitmore assessed.
“In a game like this, the legs went the longer the game went on, this is what we expected.
“It (travelling) took a toll on us in the last part of the game, but what the team did was to remain positive because situations like these will arise in World Cup qualifying, we’ll just have to know how to deal with it,” he surmised.
Among his starters were England-based central defenders Claude Davis and Damion ‘Stew Peas’ Stewart, who had last represented Jamaica at the CONCACAF Gold Cup Finals in the United States in 2009.
Whitmore didn’t say much while analysing their performance.
“It’s still early days,” he noted. “We’ve a couple other games still … to see and analyse (them) for our World Cup squad.”
That pool will get much larger and time to prepare for the qualifiers will increase to the point where their levels of performance will become more satisfactory for Whitmore.
“The English League will end in a month’s time or so, so it’s good to have the English players with us, the Scandinavian players and a couple of other players,” the coach noted. “They’ve been around for a while, so they’ll understand what’s going on and know where we want to go from there.”
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