Boyz hunt win against Japan’s Olympic team

June 11, 2021
Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore
Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore

The national senior men's team will wrap up their tour of Japan with a match against the Japanese Olympic team tonight at 11:35. (Jamaica time) at the Toyota Stadium in Toyota, Japan.

The Boyz are coming off a 1-1 draw against Serbia on Monday where Watford striker Andre Gray scored his first international goal in his second game for Jamaica. Ranhinja Pavlovic got the equaliser for the 25th world-ranked Serbians in the 61st minute.

The game will be the second of their revised two-match international series as last week's scheduled game against Japan in Sapporo was cancelled as Jamaica could not field a full team. Only 10 players were present at the time as several overseas-based players had travel complications because the COVID-19 tests taken were not the proper ones to enter the country. Jamaica Football Federation technical committee chairman Rudolph Spied says that the despite the challenges experienced so far, head coach Theodore Whitmore will be focused on putting his players in the best position to succeed as the 2021 Gold Cup draws near.

"We have been through a long and rocky road and but I think everything is for a purpose and I can see now where the coach is going to be making sure that he knows what his best combinations are and just play them from here on in," Speid told STAR Sports.

Core players missing

That rocky road has included mishaps since the Reggae Boyz returned to international action last November. Ongoing contract negotiations with the JFF resulted in some of the core players missing out on the March friendly against the United States in Austria and that delegation had their local training camp cancelled to acquire the necessary visas to travel.

The two-game series has been used as preparation for the upcoming Gold Cup tournament in July as well as the final round of the World Cup Qualifers, which start in September. Harbour View head coach Ludlow Bernard says he expects players who didn't get extended minutes against Serbia to get a longer run-out to prove why they should be in the Gold Cup team.

"This is an opportunity to look at some of the other players in the squad and see who can provide that additional fire power that maybe required," Bernard said. "Yes, we got a good opponent (in Serbia) and we did well in terms of getting a result. Now we are getting a weaker opponent now who we are expected to dominate and of course we are expected to try a couple more things."

The game against the Japanese Olympic team will be the final match before Jamaica's Gold Cup campaign which begins on July 12 against Suriname.

- D.W.

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