Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Edwards looking for improved performance against Cuba

Published:Saturday | February 25, 2017 | 12:00 AMLivingston Scott
Cuba’s national under-17 team coach Rufino Sotolongo (left) leads his team out of the arrival terminal at the Norman Manley International Airport yesterday.
Rufino Sotolongo
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After below par performances against their United States and Canadian counterparts, Jamaica Under-17 coach Andrew Edwards says they are looking for marked improvements when they take on Cuba in another two game practice series starting on Sunday at Winchester Park at 3 p.m. The second game is schedule for UWI, Mona on Tuesday.

The Jamaicans lost both games to the USA and Canada, and with the implementation of a residential camp, Edwards says they have been able to improve players and the team, and he is expecting a win to boost morale as well.

"We have got a lot fitter and stronger, and tactically, we are much better and much better equipped, so we are looking for a better all-round performance at both ends of the pitch and in the middle as well, and you will see a better performance all around. They (players) have been together for a long while, so the cohesiveness and the understanding have developed over the last few weeks due to the residential camp and we are very happy where our preparation is, and we are looking for some good performances," he said.

 

PREPARING FOR PANAMA

 

Although victory is at the forefront of their minds, preparing the team for the CONCACAF Championship in Panama in April is the main objective.

"We definitely want to win the games, but beyond the result, we have to be more mindful of how the team is looking up towards the games against Mexico, El Salvador and USA (CONCACAF group). That is the major focus. Results go a far way in boosting confidence and morale, but beyond the result, we have to be mindful of what we want to achieve and the extent to which we achieved those things.

Edwards have faced the Cubans on many occasion in the last few years and believes the two countries have an intense rivalry.

"We know we are developing a rivalry between ourselves and Cuba and it is going back many years, and we expect them to come out and fight and play a good game," he said.

Cuba's coach, Rufino Sotolongo, says this is the first practice game for his team outside of Cuba and that it is very important they get a win.

"It (games) is very important. Both teams have qualified for the next round (CONCACAF), so this game is very important, and we are taking it very seriously," said Sotolongo.

Although Sotolongo have seen the young Reggae Boyz play before, he will not dwell on the past.

"We have watched them twice in Panama, so we know a bit about them. They have very good players and we respect them, and expect to see good things from them. The games are important, we need to win because it is preparation and we will look at where we are now, because the important thing is to qualify for the World Cup, so we want to know where we are in our preparation," he said.