Sports

Skipper Blake expects better show from Reggae Boyz

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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WILLEMSTAD, Curacao — Reggae Boyz Captain Andre Blake believes there is enough quality in the current 23-man squad to get a positive result when his team faces home side Aruba here at Ergillio Hato Stadium at 6:00 pm (5:00 pm Jamaica time) today.

The two teams met inside Kingston's National Stadium on Saturday evening, with Devon Williams and Shamar Nicholson finding the target in a 2-0 win for Jamaica, which consolidated their place atop the four-team Group C of League B Concacaf Nations League football.

Jamaica lead with maximum nine points following 6-0, 4-0 and 2-0 victories over Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, and Aruba, respectively, in first-round play.

In today's second-round action, Jamaica will hope to maintain their high standard and continue to push towards qualification to the next Concacaf Gold Cup Tournament, as well as to maintain their place in the top six Concacaf ranking, an added boost for Fifa World Cup qualification.

“Right now it's just about recovery, but the good thing is we have a big group of 23 players, so we can definitely inject some fresh legs, if that's what the coach sees fit. But I think here we have a quite competent enough group that whoever coach decides to put out there can get the job done,” Blake told the Jamaica Observer prior to yesterday's training session.

“Obviously, it's not going to be easy as fatigue is going to be an issue, but I think we're fitter. So we're just gonna have to take care of our bodies and go out there and try to also create this environment where it's not about who we are playing, but about us and trying to build and trying to move forward and trying to create the environment for what we want — the style we want to play and what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

“So this is another opportunity for us to grow and that's definitely what that aim is and what we're looking forward to going out there and doing.”

The Boyz flew into Curacao on a chartered flight from Kingston on Sunday afternoon, and arrived in the Dutch-speaking nation less than an hour and a half later, sparing themselves even more fatigue from connecting through the eastern Caribbean or through Miami for this quick turnaround game.

Blake, like his teammates, has acknowledged that the team failed to spark on Saturday, primarily due to the opposition's ultra-defensive tactic to keep as many bodies behind the ball as possible.

He's now asking the Jamaican fans to be patient, even as he's asked his players to be sharper and more efficient with the football.

“The fans have to be patient with us; obviously it wasn't our sharpest game, but it's hard when you play against a team that's going to sit deep, park the bus and, you know, put everybody behind the ball and try to play on the counter. It's not easy and for us, we just have to exercise a lot of patience. We know once we score early they're probably going to have to come out a little bit and then spaces might be able to open up, but it's always going to be tough when you play against any team like that, that just sit back and not come out.

“For us, we have to just try to maybe get a goal on a restart or try to figure out a way. Who to tell if they are going to approach the game the same way now since it's technically a home game for them? Or do they just still sit back and play on the counter? But we just have to be patient and move the ball side to side.

“In Kingston we weren't at our sharpest and when teams sit back like that, it shows up more because you're going to have to be very clean and crisp with the ball to break them down, because they put everybody behind the ball in a block and they just slide and shift, so there's not much space to manoeuvre so that's why it seemed as if it wasn't really our best game, which it wasn't.

“We all recognised that everyone could have done a better job, be cleaner with the ball and looking forward to Tuesday, I know the guys are gonna put on a better show. So even if they come and sit back again, if we take care of the football, if we do the little things — run, move for each other off the ball — we're going to get a few chances. And we just have to put them away and eventually the game is going to open up for us,” he said.

The players were expected to take to the training pitch last evening at the game venue, and though changes are expected, they couldn't be finalised until after that session.

Still, not too many changes were anticipated, according to Assistant Coach Jerome Waite, as the Boyz “still want to win the game, first and foremost”.

Despite Williams opening the scoring on 13 minutes on Saturday, Jamaica failed to consolidate their control of the game as they proved inefficient in the final third with their control and passes against a team which defended deep and narrow.

Striker Shamar Nicholson even had time to miss a penalty kick on 77 minutes, and Aruba's captain Eric Abdul is promising more of the same today, as he has acknowledged that they are the underdogs and will not be gifting the Reggae Boyz anything easily.

Squads: Jamaica — Andre Blake, Alvas Powell, Dever Orgill, Shamar Nicholson, Je-Vaughn Watson, Damion Lowe, Brian Brown, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence, Alex Marshall, Devon Williams, Amal Knight, Akeem Chambers, Fabion McCarthy, Kevaughn Isaacs, Andre Lewis, Lamar Walker, Chavany Willis, Maalique Foster, Javon East, Junior Flemmings, Shaun Francis, Ajeanie Talbott.

Aruba — Eric Abdul, Glenbert Croes,,Marlon Pereira, Nickenson Paul Noah Harms, Erik Santos, Leroy Oehlers, Terrence Groothusen, Gregor Breinbury, Randell Harrevelt, Annuar Kock, Matthew Lentink, Raizel Jensen, Jeamirr Howell, Eugene Heyden, Javier Jiminez, Mark Jacobs, Edward Clarissa, Joshua Gross, Andrew Martinez, Resef Gross.


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