Letters to the Editor

Can't score, can't qualify!

Monday, June 18, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I never cease to be amazed by folks who offer simplistic solutions to very complex problems, and by others who complicate simple matters.

Take Jamaica's football, as we moan and groan, whenever the World Cup rolls around, about our inability to qualify since 1998. The late, great Lindy Delapenha used to say many moons ago: “Football is a simple game. It's players who complicate it.” Were he alive today he might have added “coaches, commentators and now administrators”.

There is currently much introspection through community consultations as to how we can avoid another shut-out four years hence. Much talk of organisation, developing a national style, locals versus imports, blah, blah, blah, etc. Ask most Jamaicans what they remember about 1998 and the first name that comes to mind is likely the outstanding Theodore Whitmore, whose two goals versus Japan gave us our only World Cup win. Far fewer remember how we got there. But for the thunder in the right boot of Deon “Goal-a-match” Burton we might never have reached France.

Having watched Jamaica play since way back in 1948, I can say with confidence that the goalkeeping has improved by leaps and bounds, but the shooting has also deteriorated to the same degree. Today's shooting is weak and inaccurate — wildly inaccurate; and it's not just Jamaica, but worldwide. Look no further than world champions Germany, who had two dozen chances to score against Mexico yesterday, but couldn't! The only people who might have been impressed would have been any NFL scouts looking for field goal kickers for next season.

Burton apart — and he was an import — Jamaican football has not produced, and does not now have shooters who can compare with the likes of Delapenha, Noel Tappin, Owen Parker, Leighton Duncan, Ken East, Allie McNab, and others of yesteryear who launched grenades from their boots. It's likely because modern coaching methods don't emphasise shooting.

I've watched Jamaica spend an hour warming up before internationals and not spend even a minute on shooting. Can anyone image Shiv Chanderpaul or Chris Gayle preparing for a match and not practise some batting? After watching our team go 90 minutes without a shot that troubled the opposing goalkeeper, I enquired why this was so. The reply was that they had practised shooting earlier in the week. Yeah, right!

Coaches in Jamaica and worldwide seem to have attended the same coaching school, and coach out of the same manual. That's why all the teams look alike.

Unless we break out of that prison and devote far more attention to shooting, at all levels, talk about future World Cup qualification will be just whistling past the graveyard.

It's as uncomplicated as that.

Errol W A Townshend

Ontario, Canada

ewat@rogers.com

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