Tue | Jul 27, 2021

Whitmore pleased in spite of defeat

Published:Thursday | July 22, 2021 | 12:09 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Jamaica defender Adrian Mariappa (top) beats Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell to a header during the second half of their Concacaf Gold Cup Group C match at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.
Jamaica defender Adrian Mariappa (top) beats Costa Rica forward Joel Campbell to a header during the second half of their Concacaf Gold Cup Group C match at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday.
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Despite Jamaica’s 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica in their final Concacaf Gold Cup Group C game on Tuesday, head coach Theodore Whitmore said that the team finally showed improvements in their play, compared to their previous wins against Suriname and...

Despite Jamaica’s 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica in their final Concacaf Gold Cup Group C game on Tuesday, head coach Theodore Whitmore said that the team finally showed improvements in their play, compared to their previous wins against Suriname and Guadeloupe.

In spite of those previous wins, Whitmore had previously said that he was pleased with the result but not the performance. However on Tuesday, the Reggae Boyz outperformed Costa Rica in every significant area, except for the scoreboard. They had 19 shots and 11 on target to Costa Rica’s five and one on target. Jamaica had 54 per cent of possession, 424 passes, with 397 on target (94 per cent passing accuracy), while Costa Rica had 351 passes, 310 on target (88 per cent accuracy).

“The result did not go the way we wanted it to, but I’m very proud of the guys,” Whitmore said after the game. “They played with a lot of character. They did stuff that we needed them to do. We didn’t see that in the last two games we played.”

Bryan Ruiz’s 53rd-minute goal was the difference as Costa Rica secured top spot in Group C, with nine points. However, ‘Los Ticos’ finished the game with 10 men on the field. Goalkeeper Leonel Moreira was sent off in the 72nd minute for handling the ball outside the box. Jamaica went on the offensive as soon as the match was resumed, with Costa Rica only managing one shot in the entire first half.

Whitmore had been critical of the team not putting in a complete performance, describing the second half against Suriname on Friday as being played “in pieces” and saying that they made things difficult for themselves and not their opponents after the Guadeloupe game the previous Monday.

But on Tuesday, Whitmore said that the way they attacked and pressured Costa Rica was exactly what he wanted to see out of his team despite the absence of the final product.

“We moved around the ball much quicker,” he said. “We played with a lot of urgency, cohesiveness. We found space in and through the Costa Rican (defence). I think the finishing let us down, and I think we were unfortunate to come out on the losing side.”

Watford’s Andre Gray, who was one of the eight changes made to the starting line-up, was particularly threatening, forcing saves from Moreira in the 42nd and 43rd minutes of play. Gray’s best chance of the game came in the 52nd minute when Tyreek Magee put him through on the right side of the box, but he smashed his shot into the near post. A minute later, Ruiz got Los Ticos’ goal against the run of the play, finishing a header from close range.

The result means that Jamaica finishes second in Group C with six points and will face the United States in the quarterfinals at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. Jamaica time. Costa Rica, by winning the group, will take on Canada on the same day at the same venue.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com