Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Clean sheet could power Boyz – Coaches

Published:Wednesday | October 13, 2021 | 12:07 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

Humble Lion head coach Andrew Price and veteran tactician Calvert Fitzgerald believe the Reggae Boyz will have to repeat Sunday’s defensive display against Canada in order to give themselves a chance of a positive result in Honduras today.

The Jamaicans will face Honduras in San Pedro Sula today in their latest FIFA World Cup Concacaf qualifiers on the back of their 0-0 draw with Canada at the National Stadium on Sunday. While they earned their second point of qualifying, Jamaica are still at the bottom of the eight-team standings, on two points from five matches.

However, Sunday’s game was most notable for the team’s first clean sheet of the campaign, having conceded eight goals in their previous four outings.

The result came despite Damion Lowe being unavailable because of yellow-card accumulation, and Alvas Powell, who operated as a makeshift centre back, having to be replaced in the 37th minute. Jamaica were already without England-based centre baks Liam Moore and Ethan Pinnock, who were ruled out because of injury.

Price said that despite dropping points again at home, the shutout has to be seen as a positive, not only given their recent frailties, but the constant adjustments that had to be made.

“(Adrian) Mariappa had to play with two unorthodox central defenders for 90 minutes, which showed the versatility, as Jevaughn Watson had to drop to central defence when he (Powell) got hurt. So I must give credit to the defensive unit who gave us our first clean sheet of the entire campaign,” Price told The Gleaner.

“Kudos must go out to Oneil Fisher. I thought he was going to be in for a horrible day with the marauding Alphonso Davies, and after getting a yellow card very early in the game, which would have curtailed his aggression, he still managed to put in a sterling performance where he kept Davies at bay for almost the entire match.”

Whitmore admitted that their backs were against the wall not only with the results, but with how they were prone to leaking goals.

“(We had to concentrate) so that we do not give away anything. So I think we achieved that this afternoon (Sunday). I think we could have squeezed one past the Canadian team and got all three points, but kudos to the performance of the boys,” Whitmore said in an interview with RJR Sports after the game.

Fitzgerald said that while the defensive display should be seen as a positive, they will need to improve their offensive threat. He pointed to defensive midfielder Anthony Grant as the key piece in ensuring that the Jamaican defence is not left wanting.

“When Grant plays, it seems that the defence is less exposed. The keeper doesn’t have to make as many saves. When he plays in that position, it takes some of the pressure and some of the work off the back two. We just have to be tight and disciplined, tracking and marking, and we should be OK,” Fitzgerald said.

“Fighting hard and playing with commitment will not make you reach the World Cup. You have to actually play quality football. That is the missing piece.”

Lowe will be available for the game after serving his suspension, and Price says they must have the same resolute attitude in their defending to give themselves a chance of stealing points on the road.

“It’s very important that we go down there with a positive mindset, and after that defensive display (vs Canada) we must play with some confidence and see if we can steal all three points on the road,” Price said.