Sun | May 28, 2017

Boyz focus on Costa Rica

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Miguel Coley, assistant Reggae Boyz coach.

HAWTHORNE, California:

The Reggae Boyz are aiming at a strong start to the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

"For any tournament, your first game sets you up for the group stage and the rest of the tournament. So, especially coming out of the Copa with a good momentum, you want to take this into our Gold Cup tournament," said Miguel Coley, assistant coach of the Jamaica men's senior national football team, as he related to the importance of a good start, upon the arrival here of the coaching, administrative staff and four remaining squad members from Jamaica on Sunday evening.

Captain Rodolph Austin, goalkeeper Dwayne Miller, Allan Ottey and Andre Clennon joined the other US-based and European-based teammates, who arrived here between Friday and Saturday.

A positive first result, Coley noted, would make the players "more relaxed".

"So you will find that they'll express themselves more and you'll find that we'll get more goalscoring opportunities .../ and there's a good vibe in the team, which translates into a good vibe on the pitch."

Jamaica will play in Group B, which also comprises Costa Rica - one of the big surprises at last year's World Cup Finals in Brazil - along with Canada and El Salvador.

"We've a good chance," Coley noted of Jamaica advancing past the group stage. "I think we have a strong team, a competitive team within, so I guess everybody will be pushing each other for opportunities to start and when they get on the pitch it's to get the job done."

Jamaica recently participated in the Copa America, South America's quadrennial championship. Ironically, they also played out of Group B, where they suffered 1-0 defeats to beaten World Cup finalists Argentina, the world's number three team, world number eight Uruguay, which had won the previous Copa America; and Paraguay, which lost to Uruguay in the previous final.

The Gold Cup is a step down from Copa, which has some of the world's best countries and players like Brazil and Argentina and Lionel Messi and Neymar. Coley, however, said none of the Gold Cup matches will be easy.

"They are tough teams. Costa Rica, they're coming off a good World Cup; Canada, the last game we played them they defeated us (3-1), although it wasn't a full strength Jamaica team, but it's in the back of their minds, so they're going to be coming for Jamaica. But it's a tough zone."

He continued: "Costa Rica are really the focus now, it's our first game, so we're going to exert our energies there and try to get a good start.

"The mindset is to reach the final definitely," Coley said of the Reggae Boyz's target. "We back ourselves 100 per cent in terms of doing that.

Jamaica's highest ever Gold Cup finish was a third place effort in 1993. For now, Coley says their focus is on Wednesday's opening match.

" ... The first game is the hurdle we're focusing on and we just want to get a good start."