Sat | Sep 25, 2021

Blake ready to handle tough schedule

Published:Thursday | June 24, 2021 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler/ Staff Reporter
Blake
Blake

Reggae Boyz goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake says that he is fully prepared to meet the demands of a hectic upcoming schedule for both club and country. Blake, 30, was named to the 60 man provisional roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament...

Reggae Boyz goalkeeper and captain Andre Blake says that he is fully prepared to meet the demands of a hectic upcoming schedule for both club and country.

Blake, 30, was named to the 60 man provisional roster for the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament, with Jamaica set to begin their campaign on July 12. For the next few months, Blake will see his demands increase for both the national team and his Major League Soccer club the Philadelphia Union.

He will have a maximum of six league games for the Union in August before the start of the World Cup qualifiers in September. Additionally, the Union will face Club America in the Concacaf Champions League semi-finals, with the first leg on August 12 and the second leg on September 15, a week after the Reggae Boyz's final qualifying game for that September window - a September 8 assignment against Costa Rica.

Blake said that he will be focusing on staying injury-free to ensure he will be available for the major games ahead.

"So for me, it's important to just stay healthy. It's going to be important to manage your body and your work load during that time due to the fact that you are going to be playing a lot of games," Blake told The Gleaner.

Those upcoming fixtures don't include the games that Blake could be involved in next month should the Reggae Boyz repeat their performances at the three last Gold Cup campaigns, when they advanced to the semi-finals, as well as back-to-back finals in 2015 and 2017.

Blake said that the loaded schedule, if managed correctly, could work out in his favour, as he would be in peak form and ready to lead the charge for the Reggae Boyz.

"You have to be keen on rest and recovery so that's going to be important, but you know God's willing, I can really get on a run and be in top form and that should really be very good with all these games coming. And what better time to be in tip-top shape," Blake said.

Jamaica face the task of playing five of their first seven games away from home, which includes their September 2 opener against Mexico at the Estadio Azteca. Blake will visit the Azteca before that opener, when the Union face Club America in that Concacaf Champions League semi-final first leg.

Blake said that despite the challenge of having to start their campaign with multiple away matches, the team has no choice but to accept it and approach the road tests with a positive mindset.

"That can either make you or break you to be honest. It can work in our favour and at this point, we have to make it work in our favour because it's not going to change," Blake said. "Starting on the road we have to go out there with a strong mentality. So we have to just look at it from a different perspective and do what we have to do, which is when we have to go on the road like that, get a couple draws and get one or two wins sprinkled in. And then coming home with that confidence, we can really set up ourselves to really be successful."

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com