Reggae Boyz face Soca Warriors in key friendly today

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — It's a Caribbean rivalry like no other. Regardless of the sport, and whether it's a friendly game or a high stakes, competitive encounter the battle is almost always intense.

Expect nothing less when Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors host Jamaica's Reggae Boyz in this evening's international football friendly match here at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Kick-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm Jamaica time.

“Jamaica-Trinidad is no normal game, it doesn't matter the sport, so the days together we have been trying to educate the players. This is more than football, but we came with an objective because we have a lot of first-timers and players who may make their international debut,” Jamaica's Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore said yesterday.

“It is about what they do with the opportunity. Some will want to prove that they want to be here for the long haul and that will be pleasing to the coaching staff. Pride is at stake and we just have to go out and apply ourselves,” the Reggae Boyz coach added.

The twin island republic is gearing up for the resumption of the Hexagonal Round of the 2018 Russia World Cup football qualifying campaign. Their next encounters are against Central American teams Honduras and Panama next month.

The Jamaicans are not in 2018 FIFA World Cup contention, but fringe players — currently all local based — have the opportunity to impress the coaching staff. They were set to have their only training session late yesterday ahead of today's clash.

Whitmore's Reggae Boyz, comprising home-bred players, were surprise second-placed finishers behind hosts United States at the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this summer.

Today, Whitmore, a former Reggae Boyz star, will be up against old foes Dennis Lawrence and Stern John. Lawrence, a former Trinidad and Tobago defender, is the current Soca Warriors head coach, while ex-teammate John is his assistant.

Whitmore said he is not entirely certain of the composition of the current squad, but is expecting “quality” opposition.

“I've played against their coaching staff, but I'm not sure of their style, because Dennis got the job late in the World Cup qualifying stage, [though] I've seen clips of [different] players in the squad,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer.

“This is preparation for Trinidad, because they have two massive games coming up for the World Cup qualifiers. We are now rebuilding and trying to get depth in our squad and to build on our Gold Cup performance. Trinidad have quality players... we are not sure what their set-up is like, but we know they have overseas-based players in the squad,” the former silky midfielder explained.

The last time the teams met the Reggae Boyz won on penalty shoot-out in the final of the 2014 Caribbean Cup in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

However, their most recent friendly encounter ended 2-0 in T&T's favour in 2013.

Prior to that the Jamaicans beat the Trinidadians 3-1 here in a friendly international in Trinidad in 2010. Whitmore, in a previous stint, was also the head coach.

Probable starting XI — Shaven Paul, Ladale Richie, Rosario Harriott, Ricardo Morris, Javain Brown, Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison, Marvin Morgan, Jamiel Hardware, Fabian Reid, Shamar Nicholson.

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