Sports

'I am disappointed!'

Whitmore let down by Boyz' 0-2 loss to El Salvador in crucial Nations League qualifying game

IAN BURNETT
SPORT EDITOR with theREGGAE BOYZ In Central America

Monday, March 25, 2019

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The manner of Saturday's 0-2 loss to El Salvador might have sickened the stomach of Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, as it eliminated his Reggae Boyz from League A competition in the new Concacaf Nations League, which kicks off later this year.

However, the former Regage Boy captain and star player remains optimistic and has adopted the philosophical view that out of bad comes good.

“I'm very disappointed, but from every bad comes good and there are a lot of lessons we could take from that game going forward — and I'm still optimistic,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the contingent arrived in Costa Rica yesterday.

The Reggae Boyz had delivered an error-strewn rendition in their loss to El Salvador inside Estadio Cuscatlan, during their final round of the Concacaf Nations League qualifying campaign on Saturday night.

Goalkeeping captain Andre Blake, so often his team's saviour, produced an uncharacteristic error to gift the home side the lead three minutes into the second half — when he let an innocuous free kick by Gerson Mayan slip through his usually safe hands and in behind for the alert Nelson Bonilla to gleefully accept the gift and nod home — much to the delight of the desperate home crowd numbering around 32,000.

And as the Boyz went in search of the equaliser, the game was made safe through another charitable display from the green-and-black-clad Jamaicans, as defender Damion Lowe lingered on a high ball clearance inside his own penalty box and Oscar Ceren created pressure and in so doing forced an error when the ball glanced off Lowe's head and into the goal, well out of the reach of a stranded Blake five minutes from time.

In time added striker Darren Mattocks was red-carded by Costa Rican Referee Juan Gabriel Calderon for a high boot as he attempted a turn and shoot on goal.

“I keep telling our players that these are the kinds of conditions that we have to play in when we go into Central America, be it the Azteca [Mexico], El Salvador, Costa Rica — these are the environments we face and I'm disappointed in how we dealt with it.

“I think the first half, despite coming out 0-0, we weren't all that bad, as we were a bit more organised, we were compact, the Salvadoreans had a lot of possession but they weren't hurting us.

“The second half, after we gave up the first goal, we went apart, gave up a second and from there it was totally out of our hands; but basically we didn't offer anything much in terms of offence because there were a lot of turnovers under no pressure whatsoever. I did not see any creativity, nobody who wanted the ball; we had our defenders trying long, final passes and that hurt us a lot,” was Whitmore's analysis.

The result saw Jamaica slip from fifth position to seventh in the Concacaf Nations League qualifiers and out of the top six, which would have gained qualification to League A in the new Nations' League. However, they have qualified for this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup, even with six games left to be played yesterday.

El Salvador climbed to eighth place, also with nine points, but with a goal difference of five.

Martinique shot to the top of the standings with maximum 12 points, followed by Curacao (plus 20 goal difference) after being defeated by Antigua and Barbuda, Haiti (plus 16), Cuba (plus 14) — with both scheduled to play each other yesterday, followed by Canada (plus 14), Guyana (plus 11), Jamaica (plus 9), El Salvador (plus 5), Montserrat (plus 3) — all with nine points.

Based on yesterday's fixtures, no three teams could surpass Jamaica's plus nine goal difference.

The Boyz will now match skills against the second tier, which will comprise teams finishing from seventh position through to 22nd in the standings, and it means that Whitmore will have an earlier start to his programme. And he's gracefully accepting the positives from his new reality.

“That is very important, because once we can get them playing together that would give us some justice going forward — so that is one of the positives we can take from this situation. It also gives our local pool of players more opportunities to come together for a shot to play against these teams in Pool B,” he said.

Meanwhile, Whitmore has turned a new page and is now focused on tomorrow's friendly international against Costa Rica inside Estadio Nacional in San Jose.

The technical boss made it clear that new faces will show in this encounter, giving other members of the 23-man squad to strut their stuff.

“All the players are here to play and for the game on Tuesday it will be totally different, with eight or nine changes form the team that started against El Salvador; and these are games that we need to measure what we have because if we can't play in these games then it makes no sense to even put on the national shirt,” ended Whitmore.

Teams: Jamaica – Andre Blake, Michael Hector, Damion Lowe, Alvas Powell, Kemar Lawrence, Je-Vaughn Watson, Devon Williams, Cory Burke (Dever Orgill 70th), Ricardo Morris (Maalique Foster 65th), Peter-Lee Vassell (Junior Flemmings 79th), Darren Mattocks

Booked: Hector (33rd), Orgill (72nd), Mattocks ejected 90th+2)

Subs not used: Amal Knight, Jeadine White, Fabion McCarthy, Ladale Richie, Javon East, Shaun Francis, Brian Brown, Jamoi Topey, Kevon Lambert

El Salvador – Henry Hernandez, Roberto Dominguez, Jonathan Jiminez (Juan Barahona 83rd), Ivan Mancia, Narciso Orellana, Darwin Ceren, Nelson Bonilla (Joaquin Rivas 69th), Jaime Alas, Oscar Ceren, Gerson Mayen, Bryan Tamacas

Booked: None

Subs not used: Kevin Carabantes, Oscar Pleitez, Xavier Garcia, David Rugamas, Marvin Monterroza, Santos Ortiz, Ruben Marroquin, Tomas Granitto, Moises Mejia, Diego Coca

Referee: Juan Gabriel Calderon (Costa Rica)

Assistant referees: Juan Carlos Mora (Costa Rica), Henri Pupiro (Nicaragua)

Fourth official: Ricardo Montero Araya (Costa Rica)

Referee assessor: Marvin Torrentera (Mexico)

Match commissioner: Marlon Hernandez (Nicaragua)


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