Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Whitmore hangs on to hope as W Cup spot in jeopardy
Jamaica's Reggae Boyz dream of qualifying for the second round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers hangs in the balance today, as they face Antigua and Barbuda in their final CONCACAF semi-final-round match inside the National Stadium, starting at 6:15p.m.
The Reggae Boyz, who are third in the group with seven points from five games and a goal difference of zero, need to defeat Antigua in today's game and hope that the United States register a victory over Guatemala.
Currently, both the United States and Guatemala are in a superior position to Jamaica, as both are on 10 points with a goal difference of three.
That situation can be considered favourable for Jamaica, as a loss for either team and a win by at least three clear goals for Jamaica would see the Reggae Boyz advancing as the second-place team in the group.
If at the end of today's games three teams are locked on 10 points, the first method of separation will be goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.
However, Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore said everyone is well aware of what is at stake and is confident they can deliver.
"We just have to do what we have to and hope that something can happen for us in the USA and Guatemala game," said Whitmore, prior to his team's final training session at the National Stadium yesterday. "We just have to remain positive and concentrate on the job at hand.
"It is very disappointing, but this is football, and you have to expect these sorts of things," Whitmore said.
The group is a tricky one and so we just have to hope for the best."
The Reggae Boyz's team will be boosted by the inclusion of midfielder Rodolph Austin, who missed Jamaica's 2-1 away defeat to Guatemala last Friday after recovering from injury.
However, midfielder Jason Morrison, who started against the Guatemalans, has been suspended for today's game after picking up a second consecutive yellow card. Defender Adrian Mariappa, who missed the game against Guatemala because of injury, will be a game-time decision.
Whitmore added that there is no additional pressure on his players because everyone is raring to go.
"This is football, and you have to expect the worst," Whitmore said. "It is only one situation at the moment and this is to go out there and give a good performance and see if we can get some goals."
Both teams played to a 0-0 draw in their first-round encounter.
Meanwhile, George Dublin, captain of Antigua and Barbuda, who are at the bottom of the table with one point, said his team will be looking to secure a positive result.
"We are expecting to play a good game of football, and hopefully the better team on the day will win," said Dublin.