June 10, 2011
Reggae Boyz look to advance in Gold Cup
Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor-Sports
DETERMINED to gain early qualification, Jamaica and Guatemala are set for a real dogfight, when both clash in a CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B football match at the Florida International University (FIU) this evening, starting at 7:00 (6:00 Jamaica time).
"We are preparing ourselves to face a tough Guatemala because their backs are against the wall, because they only have one point," said Whitmore. "So at least they need to get something out of our game, so we are preparing ourselves as much to qualify from that game."
Afterwards, Honduras will tackle Grenada at 9:00 (8:00 Jamaica time) in the feature encounter, with both competitors aiming at second round qualification as well.
Two teams are certain to advance from the four-team group phase of this 12-nation championship, along with the top two third-place finishers among the three groups and already, the Reggae Boyz are top of the group with three points from their one-sided 4-0 annihilation of Grenada in their opening game at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles last Monday.
Guatemala are in a slightly worse off situation with one point, after playing to a goalless finish against Honduras, when two of their players were red carded.
Jamaica will be looking to press ahead with their advantage, but the Guatemalans have other ideas.
"Guatemala is not the favoured team to go to the next round, so we have to show every game we can play hard, we can play good and we have another exam against Jamaica," said their 31-year-old captain, Carlos Ruiz.
final training session
The Jamaicans held their final training session for the match yesterday, at FIU, simulating many of the exercises they will be looking to repeat from their overwhelming first-game showing, when they thrashed Grenada 4-0 on goals from Luton Shelton, Ryan Johnson, Demar Phillips and substitute Omar Daley.
He and his unrelated namesake, Keammar, came off the bench to inject life and a flurry of goal chances into an already dominant Jamaica performance.
For the most part, it was beautiful, highlighted by several golden finishes and a fluent, high possession ball game.
Also on evidence was a lack of clinical finishing, which saw many opportunities being squandered.
Scoring responsibilities should again revolve around frontmen Shelton and Johnson, along with the dangerous Dane Richards, who laid off sweet assists for the first two goals. This time, Richards wouldn't mind scoring.
"I'm a striker, so definitely I'm going to try to score. Even if I don't score, I'll be looking to create for the team, just to move on and maybe I'll score the goal in the final, the big one, and we'll win," he said. "It's all about teamwork and discipline so I'm going to try and work hard, if I can't finish I"ll set them up.
The team's captain, Shavar Thomas, is also eyeing a long stay in the championship.
"We don't want to come here as competitors, we've too much talent in Jamaica to just come here and play three games and go home, we're here as contenders and that's where the focus is," Thomas expressed. "We've a very good chance. We just started with the first game and we're looking to take it from there."
JAMAICA STARTING TEAM:
Donovan Ricketts (GK), Shavar Thomas, Dicoy Williams, Jermaine Taylor, Eric Vernan, Demar Phillips, Rodolph Austin, Jason Morrison, Luton Shelton, Dane Richards, Ryan Johnson.