Goal Rush

U-20 Boyz on goal hunt against Aruba

Thursday, November 08, 2018

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Jamaica's Under-20 Reggae Boyz will enter today's match of the Concacaf Men's Under-20 Championship against Aruba confident of achieving pre-match goals, spurred on no doubt by their spirited 2-2 draw with powerhouse Mexico on Tuesday evening at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

In today's Group B games, Jamaica and Aruba will face off at 7:45 pm, while Mexico and Grenada will do battle at 8:00 pm.

Jamaica Head coach Jerome Waite said yesterday that the focus is on getting as many goals as possible in today's match against Aruba and then Saint Martin on Saturday.

“We have to make sure now that we focus on working on execution in the final third… our defensive unit is one of, if the best unit in the entire tournament, so we are confident in our defence and it is our offence that we have to put more focus on,” he reasoned.

“We know the situation that we are in with Mexico ahead on goal difference, but there is one thing we understand — it's that if we are going to advance, we will have to score a lot of goals and that is something that is in the minds of the players and the coaches, and we will spend a little more time on that so the team can have a fair chance to qualify… it is still possible and we are going to give it the best shot,” noted Waite, who is leading the Under-20s in a temporary capacity.

Following Tuesday night's draw with regional powerhouse Mexico, Jamaica and Mexico have seven points each, but the North Americans are ahead in the six-team group with a plus-11 goal difference, while Jamaica boast a plus-four after three matches.

Reflecting on the fighting effort against Mexico, Waite noted that it was a belief in self that helped to spur the Boyz on.

“What Jamaica did last night (Tuesday) was not what Mexico expected from us as they may have figured this was another walkover, but that wasn't so… Going into the game, apart from the physical preparation, we also focused on the mental aspect, and that paid off and the team rose above all expectations,” he said.

“The key component was to get into the players' minds and to get them to believe, and not only to believe in themselves, but to believe in the coaching staff… the players now realise what is required to go the extra mile to achieve,” Waite added.

In preparation for today's clash with the Arubans, the Jamaican tactician thinks the recovery of players will be crucial.

“The most important thing right now is the recovery for players who might be carrying minor injuries coming out of the last game, and we are ensuring that the medical staff is taking the time out to deal with that because the team was very intense and physical,” he said.

In the top-of-the-table clash with Mexico, El Tri got their goals through a Javain Brown own goal (21st minute) and a Jose Macias penalty in 66th, while the Young Reggae Boyz were propelled by goals from Leonardo Jibbison (61st minute) and a brilliant 30-yard strike from Tyreek Magee (71st minute).

In another matches in the group on Tuesday, Grenada downed Saint Martin 5-2, while Nicaragua clipped Aruba 2-1 .

In their previous games ahead of the Mexico showdown, Jamaica clipped Grenada 1-0, then blanked Nicaragua 3-0. Mexico, meantime, were 7-0 winners over Nicaragua and 4-0 over Saint Martin, before duelling to the 2-2 tie with the Young Reggae Boyz.

Jamaica are seeking to qualifying for the second Fifa Under-20 World Cup, having historically done so in 2001 at the Argentina edition.

The 2018 edition of the Under-20 World Cup-qualifying tournament is featuring a record number 34 teams. Unlike the previous format, which included regional qualifiers in the Caribbean and Central America and one final championship, this year's redesigned competition ensures that all the participating teams have access to play more top-level football matches.

After the group phase, the six group winners will advance to the Qualification Stage, where they will be divided into two groups of three teams. The two group winners plus the second-place finishers of the Qualification Stage will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. Additionally, the two group winners will advance to the tournament's final to determine the regional champion.

— Sean Williams

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