André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Whitmore says Friday's WCQ is perfect occasion for Boyz to rewrite history
WITH the first training session ahead of Friday's highly anticipated FIFA World Cup qualifier against the United States now out of the way, Jamaica's Reggae Boyz left the UWI, Mona-based Jamaica Football Federation training centre oozing with confidence knowing very well that a historic win will give his team a real edge.
The remaining four members of the 24-man squad were scheduled to arrive in the island last night, and as far as head coach Theodore Whitmore is concerned, the mission is simple; win and create history.
In 18 competitive fixtures, the Jamaican senior football team has never beaten the Americans, losing 10 times and drawing the remaining eight contests between them.
It doesn't end there, however, as the Americans will also be looking to make history in Kingston, where they are yet to taste victory.
Both teams are locked at the top of the four-team Group A on four points, with the US leading on goal differential. Antigua and Barbuda and Guatemala both have one point.
"The players know what they have to do. This national team has never played a game that we don't have to win, so that is our objective with our 50th anniversary (of Independence). Now is the time," Whitmore said - a mirror of the confidence reflected by his players throughout the two-hour session.
"I am pretty satisfied and confident going into the game against this USA team," Whitmore added, before downplaying the historical odds stacked against his evolving team.
"It's 11 (players) versus 11 on the field, so none of that (history) matters. We know the job at hand, we know it is a tough one," Whitmore reasoned. "We know the US team is coming here, they have done their homework, and so have we, and at the end of the day we just have to go out there and execute the plan and get the win."
Series of drills
The Boyz were put through their paces by fitness trainer André Waugh, before Whitmore and the rest of the technical staff led a series of drills, which saw the likes of new Leeds signing Rudolph Austin, Omar Cummings, Darren Mattocks, Lovel Palmer and O'Brian Woodbine all looking particularly impressive.
"I am glad to have everyone here and the sort of attitude, vibe and mood that we have here is very encouraging," Whitmore noted. "When I gather a bunch of players like these, the sort of vibe and mood gives me great confidence going into the game, and that is why I can also speak with so much certainty."
The Americans will arrive in Kingston tomorrow without talismanic striker Landon Donovan and smooth-passing Roma midfielder Michael Bradley, with the pair left behind to nurse injuries. Clint Dempsey, who secured a transfer deadline day move to Tottenham from Fulham, and has not played a competitive game since June, may not in the best shape heading into the island's capital, but Whitmore knows that the task for the Boyz remains a daunting one.
"Any player that coach (Jurgen) Klinsmann brings in will want to prove a point, so it's no different and we are just focusing on going out there and getting the job done," Whitmore said.
Jamaica will 'welcome' the US inside the National Stadium this Friday with kick-off set for 7 p.m. Both teams will meet again for the return fixture on Tuesday in Ohio.
Tickets for the 'Office' showdown went on sale at locations across the island yesterday. Prices are grandstand Category 1 $5,000, grandstand Category 2 $3,500 and bleachers $1,500.
Outlets are: Jamaica Pegasus, York Pharmacy, Petcom Portmore, Captain's Bakery (islandwide), Western Sports (Twin Gates and Bay West Plaza, Montego Bay), Total service station (Liguanea and Stanton Terrace), World of Sports (Savanna-la-Mar), Lloyd's Pharmacy (St Thomas) and L.G. Brown service station (Dunrobin Avenue, Kingston).