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February 6, 2013
Star Sport


Montesso wants tough, focused Reggae Boyz
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter

Montesso - file

Reggae Boyz assistant coach, Alfredo Montesso, believes the national team must assert themselves against regional giants Mexico if they are to get a result, when the CONCACAF final round of qualifying kicks off at 9:30 tonight, at the dreaded Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

Jamaica have been on the wrong side of several lopsided results against the El Tri over the years, among them 8-0, 6-0 and 4-0 drubbings in previous World Cup qualifying fixtures. In fact, in nine games against El Tri, on Mexican soil, the Boyz have not only failed to claim a single point, but have lost by at least a three-goal margin on eight of those occasions, the exception coming in a 2-1 loss during the 1996 qualification campaign. Despite those facts, however, the coach says an ultra-defensive approach will not be employed in today's matchup.

"It is important that we do not allow Mexico to push us around, push the team back. Our plan is not to be camped out in our own half," Montesso said, from Mexico City yesterday.

be careless

"We have to keep the ball, keeping possession will be important and cannot afford to be careless with our passes," he added.

Concerns have been raised about the team's level of readiness ahead of the fixture, with the squad having played no friendly internationals since qualifying for the final round in October of last year. In addition to the return of national goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who returns after an unexplained five-match absence, seven players who did not play in the previous round, Omar Daley, Jermaine Johnson, Damion Stewart, Theo Robinson, Marvin Elliot, Garath McCleary and Jobi McAnuff, have been added to the squad. With the exception of two training sessions, on Monday and yesterday, the players have hardly had the time to get acquainted, let alone form a cohesive unit.

The Mexicans hardly broke sweat in qualifying for the semi-final round, cruising to a perfect record, with six straight wins to dominate Group B. In addition to finishing eight points clear of second-place Costa Rica, El Tricolor scored the most goals in the entire round (15) and conceded the joint least, two, tied with Panama. The Jamaicans finished second in Group A behind the United States, advancing on goal difference over Guatemala after both teams finished with 10 points.

strong game

In Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez of Manchester United and Giovanni dos Santos of Mallorca and Andres Guardado of Valencia, who had a strong game against Barcelona on the weekend, the Mexicans boast arguably the best attacking line-up in the region and will take some stopping. Montesso, however, did not believe the task to be impossible.

"We have to come here and respect Mexico, but we also have to come here to win the game. We are looking for victory all the time, once you target that, maybe you leave with a point but that has to be the approach."

In two other final round CONCACAF qualifiers today, Honduras will first host the United States at 4 p.m. before Panama oppose Costa Rica at 9 p.m. The top three countries in the six-team home and away play-offs will gain automatic berths to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The fourth-place country will play off for a berth against the Oceania champions.

(L) Jamaican defender Damion Stewart (right) in action against Mexico at the 2005 Gold Cup in Houston, Texas. Mexico won that match 1-0. Jamaica will have to be at their best in defence tonight to prevent a drubbing. (R): Jamaica's tough defender Nyron Nosworthy of English Championship team, Watford. - file - file

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