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Time will tell the value of the Peru test

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Reggae Boyz coach Mr Theodore Whitmore has spoken out forcefully about what he considered a disappointing performance by his team in a friendly international against Peru in that country's southern city of Arequipa earlier this week.

The game ended 1-3, a result which — prior to the game — would have been considered acceptable by many Jamaican football supporters, given all the circumstances.

To be fair to Mr Whitmore, he claimed his disappointment was not so much from the fact of defeat or margin thereof, but from the overall performance of the players.

The coach felt his team was disorganised — especially in defence and midfield, lacked belief, gave the ball away too easily and did not exploit generous space offered by the Peruvians.

Mr Whitmore insisted that he was not prepared to accept excuses such as high altitude — Arequipa is 7,000 feet above sea level — and the fact that the Reggae Boyz did not have enough time for a full training session prior to facing their hosts.

Since this is now close to the height of the Southern Hemisphere winter, we are told that there was also a chill factor with temperatures falling to 53 degrees Fahrenheit (just over 11 degrees Celsius) at game time.

Long air travel to Peru prior to the game would also have been a negative factor.

We would suggest to Mr Whitmore that while he may feel disinclined to accept excuses, he can't ignore context. For a largely inexperienced Jamaica team made up of several local semi-pro players as well as North America-based professionals, the situation, in the words of striker Mr Cory Burke, was “not ideal”.

But that's life. Footballers, like everyone else, must take the rough with the smooth. And there can be no doubt that the experience in Peru should have been of great benefit to the Reggae Boyz as they prepare for the defence of the Caribbean Cup in Martinique next week, and to compete at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Colorado, USA come July.

That point was emphasised by Mr Whitmore: “The more games we play it will be better for them (younger players)…” And further that “It (Peru match) would have to help us somewhere along the line as the players, especially the local-based ones, would have realised the pace of the game and the conditions we have to play in at this level, and now they will realise that they must step up to the plate”.

If they can come away from Martinique with the Caribbean Cup and command respect at the Gold Cup in July, Mr Whitmore, his support staff and the players will feel that the Peru test was well worth it.