Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Control the middle - Whitmore calls for ­midfield show of force in USA Gold Cup semi

Published:Wednesday | July 3, 2019 | 12:15 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Whitmore
Whitmore

Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore has admitted that his team will have to be much better in midfield if they are to come away with a favourable result against the United States (US) in their Concacaf Gold Cup semi-final match at the Nissan Stadium this evening at 8:30 p.m.

Whitmore conceded that the Jamaicans have not been ­performing at their best in the middle of the park throughout the tournament and strongly believes that they will have to turn things up a notch if they are to beat the highly favoured Americans in tonight’s final-four contest.

“We have to be better in the middle of the park. It’s a game, and anything can happen in a game, so we prepare ourselves both ­physically and mentally. But we have to be more concerned about the middle of the park and to get the attack to transition from defence to offence,” Whitmore said.

Although the Reggae Boyz might still have last month’s 1-0 win over the Americans in a friendly international fresh on their minds, Whitmore warned his players against going into today’s game with complacency and overconfidence.

“It’s a different US team. The coach likes to play the game from the back and transition into the final third, and we are aware of that,” said Whitmore.

“We don’t want to be over­confident. We have the semi-finals, a massive game against the US, and we are looking forward to it. We don’t want to be overconfident. We can’t take nothing for granted. We know we are up against a very technical, tactical team, so we just have to play our game.”

Meanwhile, the team will be without their player of the ­tournament thus far in defender Damion Lowe, who will miss the clash after picking up his second yellow card of the tournament in the last game.

Nevertheless, Whitmore believes that goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake will provide the confidence and stability the defence needs to go into the match.

“Once we have Andre [Blake] in the team, his confidence gives the team a lot of boost,” he said.

With a third successive Gold Cup final on the line and the chance of winning their first title, Whitmore said his troops are focused and ready for the tough contest that lies ahead.

“We have a tough game, but the boys are up for it. We just have to remain focused,” he said.

The Jamaicans’ only win against the US in the Gold Cup came in 2015 with a 2-1 result, also at this stage of the competition.