Sports

Reggae Boyz look to stamp class against Bonaire

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — It should be a walk in the park.But for Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore, it is not as simple as that.

He believes that his Reggae Boyz have to turn up in the proper frame of mind to bring an accomplished performance against an opponent that his charges may not find easy to self-motivate for based on their modest status in football.

Bonaire, a public body of the Kingdom of the Netherlands with under 20,000 permanent inhabitants, is not even a member of world governing body Fifa.

Every perceivable statistic weighs against them when they come up against the Caribbean number one-ranked team Jamaica, rated 54th by Fifa, in a Concacaf Nations League qualifying game today.

What that means, in a nutshell, is that tiny Bonaire have little or nothing to lose, but that does not mean they lack the desire to cut down a giant.

They will have a shot at a glorious footballing moment when they take on the Jamaicans at the the Ergilio Hato Stadium here in the Curacao capital at 6:00 pm (5:00 pm Jamaica time).

The game is being played in neighbouring Curacao because Bonaire lacks the facility to host a tournament game of this magnitude.

“Although we want to win the game and win convincingly, we have to respect the opponent… but what is for certain is that we have to have a different mindset for this game as opposed to the one against Cayman.

“We know the objective and we know the task at hand, and we must remain focused. Yes we want to win the game and, yes, we don't want to concede, but regardless how it goes, we just have to take it,” said Boyz coach Whitmore.

In their opening game of the confederation-wide competition, Jamaica were merciful against the Cayman Islands with a self-deprecating 4-0 win. And the critics roared their dissatisfaction.

It's a fix that Whitmore and his Boyz want, but they must pursue it in a professional manner befitting of their standing in regional football.

“We want to play well and we want to put away our chances, and in the Cayman game the chances presented themselves and we didn't take them. But I think the guys have realised what this is all about and they know that the mindset must change going into the Bonaire game,” said the tactician.

Little is known of Bonaire for obvious reasons, but that does not leave the team without a window.

“Regardless of the opponent, we have to prepare ourselves physically and mentally in terms of who the opponent is, and Bonaire is no different from if we were preparing to face a Mexico or USA, and that is the sort of approach we take in these games,” noted Whitmore, a hero of Jamaica's football following his well-documented heroics in France '98.

The former Tranmere Rovers and Livingston FC midfielder says that a slew of injuries to players who formed the squad for the Cayman assignment has not impacted the quality of the current deployment.

“This is football and players will get injured, players will not be in match condition, not getting playing time with their clubs, or whatever the situation, and that is why we always want to have depth in our squad, so when these situations happen, they don't affect us,” reasoned Whitmore.

For today's contest, the coach will employ a 4-1-3-2 formation. In goal is Captain Andre Blake, with Damion Lowe and Michael Hector in central defence. On the flanks are Fabion McCarthy (right-side) and Shaun Francis. In midfield, Je-Vaughn Watson will occupy a holding midfield position, with Peter-Lee Vassell, Owayne Gordon and Ricardo Morris to operate ahead of him.

Darren Mattocks and Cory Burke have been assigned the task to lead the offensive campaign.

As it stands at press time, Jamaica were sitting in ninth position on the Nations League grid with their three points, but forced down the ladder by their less-than-impressive goal difference.

Bonaire, meanwhile, were in 28th place after suffering an opening day 5-0 defeat to the Dominican Republic.

Jamaica's goal is to at least finish the qualifying tournament in the top six, which will get them seeded in League A of the Nations League and automatic qualification to next year's expanded edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup.

The Concacaf flagship national competition, which moves from 12 to 16 teams, will see the top 10 finishers in the Nations League qualifying play-offs, plus the six Russia 2018 Hexagonal competitors, qualifying to the three-group tournament.

The six are Mexico, USA, Costa Rica, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Honduras.

Jamaica's next Nations League game will be against Suriname in Montego Bay on November 17.

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