Whitmore wary as Boyz oppose lowly Cayman
The recently concluded FIFA men's World Cup has reminded Theodore Whitmore, the head coach of Jamaica senior men's team, that no nation should be taken for granted in international football - even one which is sitting at number 202 on the FIFA world ranking list.
Whitmore's Reggae Boyz will take on the Cayman Islands tonight at the National Stadium in the first match of the group stage of the newly formed CONCACAF Nations League, which is now the means by which CONCACAF nations will qualify for the Gold Cup.
And even though the British Overseas Territory is only five spots above the bottom of the FIFA world ranking list, Whitmore says he will be taking no chances when his 54th ranked charges take the field at 7 p.m.
"We are not taking their position on the FIFA ranking to mean that we are going to walk over them, because if you look at the last World Cup, you should realise that no team can be taken lightly. I am even more concerned playing against a Cayman Islands than Mexico or USA because you don't know a lot about them and don't know what they will bring," Whitmore said yesterday. "We are taking this stage of the qualification game by game. The first step is to take care of the Cayman Islands and we want to ensure that we get all three points."
The 1998 World Cup veteran has been preparing his team to take on the Cayman Islands, Bonaire, Suriname, and El Salvador in the group stage of the competition by playing a number of practice matches, including one against Ecuador on Friday night where they lost 2-0 in New York.
"The game last night was more of a training game. We exposed a lot of our players to good competition. I think the first half they were a bit tentative, but as the game progressed, I think they came into their own, and I think it shows them the level of intensity that we are looking from them and, hopefully, we can see some of that on display tomorrow night," Whitmore said. "We are up for it. We rest a number of our key players last night (Friday night) because we want everyone to be at least 110 per cent."
The Reggae Boys will travel to Curacao on October 14 to take on Bonaire in their second match of the competition.
The following players started Friday's match against Ecuador: Amal Knight (GK), Owayne Gordon, Michael Hector, Kevon Lambert, Fabian McCarthy, Ricardo Morris, Ladale Richie, Tevin Shaw, Ricardo Thomas, Peter-Lee Vassell, and Romario Williams.
Experienced players such as goalkeeper Andre Blake, Kemar Lawrence, Adrian Mariappa, Darren Mattocks and Je-Vaughn Watson are likely to be among the starters in today's match.