Waite eyes growth of U-20 cohort
Following Jamaica's impressive display in the just-concluded CONCACAF Under-20 World Cup qualifiers in the United States, head coach Jerome Waite believes that the nation has a special crop of young players and should try to keep the core of the group together for the long term.
The young Reggae Boyz went into the tournament without much preparation or expectation, however, they surprised the entire nation and probably themselves when they finished level on 13 points from five games with CONCACAF kingpins, Mexico, at the top of the group. However, Mexico qualified for the second round by virtue of a better goal difference than the Jamaicans, and only group winners advanced.
But Waite said they will have the core of that group for the Pan American Games in Peru next year, and he hopes they can continue their transition into the Under-23 Olympic qualifiers.
"We have also qualified for the Pan Am Games next year, and that is a good stepping stone for these youngsters. These players are the ones who will play the next Olympic qualifiers, but some of these players will not make it there as well," he cautioned. "A lot of things were asked by the Mexico players after the game, [including] if the Jamaican team was a professional team. But when they heard that the first time we were assembling was at the tournament, they were pretty shocked. These players are ones for the future," he continued.
QUICK TO COMPREHEND TACTICS
Meanwhile, Waite said the players were quick to comprehend his tactics and their roles and functions within the team.
"It wasn't difficult (applying tactics to the team at short notice)," he said. "But it was a work in progress because in the first training session, the most important thing is to spend a little time to ensure the defensive unit understands its roles and function to the game, which it grasped quickly. Then, we spent a little more time with the offence in other training sessions. But it was a good experience working with those players," he stated.