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Ja's Boyz look to topple Paraguay

Published:Tuesday | June 16, 2015 | 6:00 AM
AP Paraguay's Lucas Barrios celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during a Copa America Group B match against Argentina last Saturday. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
AP Reggae Boyz defender Kemar Lawrence (right) in a tussle with Uruguay's star player Edinson Cavani during Jamaica's opening Copa America Group B match last Saturday. Uruguay won 1-0.
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ANTOFAGASTA, Chile:

With an adrenaline boost from their opening performance, Jamaica aim to topple Paraguay in today's Group B Copa America showdown at the Calvo y BascuÒ·n stadium.

"This game is the hardest game that we have, so we've to be mentally prepared," assistant coach of the Jamaica senior team, Miguel Coley, said of the contest that kicks off at 6 p.m. (4 p.m. Jamaica time).

Jamaica lost 1-0 in their debut Copa match against defending champions Uruguay on Saturday and now lie bottom of the four-team standings without a point. Uruguay lead with three, while Argentina and Paraguay, who drew their opening match 2-2, have a point apiece.

Argentina and Uruguay will also play later, at the La Portada Stadium in La Serena, starting at 8:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. Jamaica time).

There are three groups of four, and with the top two from each, plus the two best third-place teams guaranteed qualification to the eight-team second round, the Jamaicans are desperate for full points.

"We need to get a positive result because we're not here just to participate, we want points on the board. We not only want to say we came to Copa, but leave a mark," Coley added.

heightened confidence

The Caribbean champions went shoulder to shoulder with Uruguay, the defending champions and 15-time holders of the South American title. They created enough chances to have won, a performance that has heightened their confidence.

"The guys are pumped up. They have more belief than even the first game, that they can go out there and compete and win games," said Coley.

" ... We cannot rest on our laurels, the hallmark of a good team is to be consistent. It's not one good performance, it's the next, and you're always judged by your last performance, so it is important for us to go out there and put a good performance on the pitch," he urged.

Key to their quest is goalscoring, and Coley noted that there will likely be changes, especially if Je-Vaughn Watson, who regularly partners captain Rodolph Austin at central midfield, is available.

"Yes, likely," he said when asked of changes to the starting team.

"You've a Watson, who will be here today. So we'll look at him and see if it's best for him to go inside or if we continue with a Lance Laing or put Jobi behind the strikers. We have some options. We'll assess the team that we're playing against and see what's best," Coley noted.

With a mix of skill, composure and passes over range, McAnuff and Austin played a splendid role in the middle of the park. Laing came off the bench with the team trailing and made clearly visible improvements to the team with precise passing, crossing and firm, decisive challenges.

Darren Mattocks, who played at the head of the attack with Giles Barnes, bothered the defenders with different qualities Monday, and will again number among the offensive possibilities, along with the impactful Laing, as Jamaica seek control against the 85th-ranked FIFA team.

"It's about controlling the tempo of the game and preventing as much as possible the counterattack, because South American teams are very speedy on the counter, so it's about preventing those situations as much as possible," Coley observed of the team with world-renowned strikers Roque Santa Cruz, their captain; Nelson Valdez of Bundesliga outfit Eintrach Frankfurt; and Lucas Barrios of France Ligue One's Montpellier.

That's where the defence comes in, and despite some glitches in the opening match, the Jamaican deputy said that group will remain unchanged.

"There were one and two errors, but in terms of defending, that's an area in which you don't want to make quick changes. It's an area for them to come together, more games, more experience at the back," Coley explained.

Goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr was a commanding presence, Wes Morgan was strong and assured and full backs Kemar Lawrence and Adrian Mariappa held their own. Morgan's central partner, Michael Hector, who made his debut against Uruguay, displayed a penchant for both holding the ball and going long, but was caught out few times.

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