Sport

'Tappa' wants more despite Boyz 5-1 triumph

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport editor

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S, Grenada — Like any hard task master, Head Coach Theodore Whitmore was very conservative in his review of his young Reggae Boyz' comprehensive 5-1 thrashing of Grenada in their i nternational f riendly game here inside the Kirani James Athletics Stadium Friday night.

“Everything considered we have to give them a pass mark,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer at game's end.

Led by two goals from Peter-Lee Vassell, plus others from debutant Daniel Green, an own goal, as well as a Chevone Marsh strike, the Reggae Boyz proved too good for the hosts, who gained a consolation through striker Saydrel Lewis.

The inexperienced Reggae Boyz unit, comprising players from the domestic leagues, had a less than ideal journey to the Eastern Caribbean and were further hampered by a number of off-field issues.

They had just one training session on Thursday evening to configure a team minus four Portmore United players who were scratched from the travel party just prior to departure on Tuesday afternoon. The original team also suffered the late withdrawal of Javain Brown who opted to take up an overseas scholarship. A replacement was sought but never materialised, which left Whitmore without a right wing back.

But the coach was pleased with the effort of his charges under the circumstances.

“We have to commend the players in what we would call an unfamiliar situation in terms of the travelling and other situations outside of football,” admitted Whitmore.

“They went on the field and gave what I would call a fair enough — I wouldn't say good — but a fair enough performance and put away five goals.”

And like any coach serious about his craft, Whitmore did not hesitate to highlight the negatives, even in the face of a one-sided victory.

“But I think in our decision-making in the final third of the field, I think we could have done better,” he said, even as he found time to lavish praise on his employer, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), for its consistent efforts to provide opportunities for the local players to expose themselves.

“... and not to take anything from the JFF, you have to laud them for giving us practice games like these to really expose our younger players so that we can assess them going forward.”

It was the Harbour View man Green who put the visitors ahead on 12 minutes when he latched on to a sweetly timed through pass from Fabian Reid to slot past goalkeeper Jason Belfon for his first international goal after just 12 minutes. It was a goal taken with a great deal of composure for a first-time international.

Eight minutes later his Harbour View teammate Vassell made it 2-0 when collected a pass from Alex Marshall, who had done well to free himself of two markers on the left flank before releasing the elegant attacker to fire home.

The second half had barely begun when Vassell rammed home from close range after another Fabian Reid assist on 47 minutes.

However, the Spice Boys pulled a goal back, much to the delight of the home fans, when Lewis sneaked in at the near post to glance a header to Amal Knight's far post on 56 minutes.

But the Boyz regained their three-goal cushion three minutes later when Vassell raced into the penalty box and crossed to the centre of the goal, only for a retreating defender to prop the ball into his own net.

And the hosts compounded their problems when a horrendous back/side pass across the face of goal by the left back beat the advancing Belfon and left the alert Marsh to race in and tap home.

Whitmore gave a positive review of debutants Green and Kevaughn Isaacs, as well as Vassell.

“For me, I think it was a pretty decent performance from Daniel Green. I have noticed him for the past couple of weeks working with him. He's very composed in front of goal, he knows how to finish and his showed just that this evening; and I think it was a good game from Kevaughn Isaacs and I'm pretty much satisfied with both of them.”

As it relates to Vassell, he said: “There is no question where Peter-Lee Vassell is concerned as regards his perforemance; we have seen him grow over a number of games he has played for the national team. The question for me now is how far does Peter-Lee Vassell want to go from here because we tend to see a lot of players believe that they have “reached” where they want and take their foot off the pedal, but I have to encourage him to keep his head in the right place going forward.”

The coach also gave his views on the job Fabion McCarthy did playing in an unfamiliar position of right back in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The UWI FC player is most comfortable in central defence or central midfield.

“Well, I think he did a fairly decent job; not one that was expected (from a genuine wing back), because I expect my wing backs to go down the flanks and put in crosses, but I think he did what he had to do.”

Whitmore, the former Reggae Boyz star player, also expressed concerns regarding what he termed a trend he has identified in Jamaican players.

“After we went two up I think we took our foot off the pedal and gave Grenada room to play, and I warned the team about complacency. but one of the things I find with us as a nation is that we easily get bored doing the right things and that is something we need to work on, but the thing about it is that we know what we have to do. It is going to take a bit of time to get these players to the level where we want them to be.”

And regarding the manner in which Jamaica conceded, he said: “What I wanted from these players is for them to identify situations in games. for instance, the goal we conceded, this player (substitute Rickell Charles) who made the cross is left-sided (playing on the right flank), so he was always going to shape and cut back on the left foot and we did nothing about it. But this is a young bunch of guys and they will have to learn from their mistakes.”

Whitmore also thought that the fitness levels of his players were below what was required at the international level, even though he is fully cognisant of the fact that they have not yet started their club season.

The Jamaicans are in the Eastern Caribbean for a two-game friendly international tour as they prepare for the start of next month's CONCACAF Nations League. They play against Barbados tomorrow.

Teams: Jamaica — Amal Knight, Ladale Richie, Ricardo Thomas (Ray Campbell 72nd), Fabion McCarthy, Kevaughn Isaacs, Tevin Shaw, Alex Marshall (Chevone Marsh 61st), Peter-Lee Vassell (Kaheem Parris 61st), Fabian Reid (Marvin Morgan 61st), Daniel Green (SHandel Senior (72nd), Ajeanie Talbott (Barrington Pryce 75th).

Subs not used: Damion Hyatt

Booked: Marsh (84th min)

Grenada — Jason Belfon, Mackell Ganness (Gath Thomas 74th), Leaon St John, Shanon Phillip (Rickell Charles 46th), Alek Wilson (Debron Frederick 68th), Alec Andall, Kwazim Theodore, KEnnedy Hickson (Sharkel Amade 68th), Shavon John Brown (Chad Mark 85th), Saydrel Lewis, Kareem Coutain (Stephen Whiteman 46th).

Subs not used: Shaddai Mark, Kimron Marshall

Referee: Kimbell Ward (St Kitts)

Assistant Referees: Denroy Barker and Kenran Daniel (St Vincent and the Grenadines)

Fourth Official: Reon Radix (Grenada)

Match Commissioner: Ricky Aberdeen

Referee Inspector: Valman Bedeau

General Coordinator: Bruce Swan

VEnue Press Officer: Neisha Peters

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