‘Be ready from the whistle’
Hallgrimsson wants high-intensity start from Reggae Boyz
NATIONAL SENIOR men’s head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is charging his team to play with the right intensity and balance as they take on Guatemala in their Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinal clash this afternoon at 4:06 at TQL Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Reggae Boyz will be aiming for their fourth semifinal berth in five editions looking to continue the momentum gained from finishing group play unbeaten, scoring 10 goals and conceding two.
Crediting Guatemala for their performances in the group stage, topping a quartet inclusive of Guadeloupe and World Cup entrants, Canada, Hallgrimsson said he expects high intensity from the opening whistle. The Reggae Boyz, he said, must match that intensity.
“It is hugely important. Because if we wake up too late, the game can be taken away from us and Guatemala will punish us if we are not ready from the first minute. We are aware of that. I know the players are aware of that,” Hallgrimsson said in yesterday’s pre-match press conference.
“We have seen a lot of videos of how they have scored against opponents in this group. If we are not ready for minute one, we can be in a lot of problems. I’m pretty sure that our players will be ready when the referee whistles the game tomorrow [today].”
With the emphasis on Guatemala’s transition play, Hallgrimsson said it is important that the Reggae Boyz keep their shape in order to be successful.
“It is not particularly for this match. We just know the danger is there in transition moments against Guatemala. So we need to execute some elements of the game. For example, our balance is very important against a team like Guatemala. It is one of the few things that we work on, how we attack is a part of how we defend.”
Jamaica have a good record against Guatemala in Gold Cup history, winning all four meetings, scoring 11 goals and conceding five. However, history doesn’t mean much for national midfielder Kevon Lambert, who said that how they play this afternoon will make the difference.
“None of that matters on the day if we don’t go out there and do the job. If we don’t go out there and put the work in,” Lambert said.
While not declaring themselves favourites to win the tournament, Lambert said that there is the belief in the team that they can mirror deep tournament runs of the past. Jamaica made the finals of the 2015 and 2017 tournaments.
“When we started, a lot of people didn’t believe in us until we played our first three games. I wouldn’t say that we are favourites, but at this point, we are in the quarterfinals. So we all deserve to be here. But we do have a strong team and we believe that we can go all the way,” Lambert said.