Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Though not wanting to make too many changes to the team that performed creditably in the opening match of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualification (WCQ) final phase - where the team was able to secure a historic 0-0 draw away to Mexico - Reggae Boyz head coach, Theodore Whitmore, has hinted that alterations will have to be made for the match inside the National Stadium tomorrow night against Panama.
"We don't want to make a lot of changes to the team, so it is a wait and see situation at the moment," Whitmore informed. "I won't say there won't be changes, but there won't be a lot of changes. When we sit and look on the Panama team, there must be some changes based on how we want to play against them."
At least one change that is anticipated is Huddersfield Town forward Jermaine Beckford replacing Ryan Johnson upfront. But Whitmore said that decision, or any concerning the starting 11, is yet to be made.
"You have Beckford, you have Theo Robinson, you have Luton Shelton and you have Ryan Johnson, so we are looking on a number of options going into the game," Whitmore disclosed. "I am very impressed with Jermaine Beckford so far. You can see he is a natural goalscorer and the couple of sessions have proven that."
press locked out
Both local and international press was initially locked out of yesterday's penultimate training session, which was held at the National Stadium. Training was cut short and though not going into details, Whitmore pointed to the players being tired.
"The players feel a bit tired, so we had to cut training short, so now we will go to the hotel and go to the pool," Whitmore pointed out.
A source close to the team highlighted, however, that the players have been involved in numerous corporate activities since the majority of them arrived in the island on Sunday and it has taken a toll on them.
Whitmore, who is seeking to become the first person to make it to the World Cup with the Jamaica national football team as a coach and player - having formed a pivotal part of the team that qualified for the 1998 Finals in France - expects the team to be up for what promises to be a tough match.
"We have to play a very disciplined and organised game because we know that the Panama team is going to be a tough team," Whitmore said. "We don't want to go in all-out attack, we just want to play our game and make the most of it."
If Demar Phillips retains his place in the starting 11 and plays in his customary left back position he is likely to be in for a long night, as Whitmore has identified the right flank as Panama's strongest point of attack.
"They (Panama) play a lot on the right-hand side, so that is one of the things that we will be looking on and we have walked through a couple of, things this afternoon and I am very satisfied," Whitmore shared. "We have sat and walked through a couple of blackboard sessions and just like against the Mexicans, we have our game plan that the Panama team has to counter. So we have our job cut out, just like how the Panama team has their job cut out as well."
The Panama team is scheduled to arrive in the island today and will work out at the National Stadium this evening, ahead of the Reggae Boyz final session.