Sport

Whitmore hopes Boyz learn from Ecuador test

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport editor

Sunday, September 09, 2018

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HARRISON, New Jersey — Experience is often said to be the best teacher, and Head Coach Theodore Whitmore is hoping that will be the case for his Reggae Boyz in their 0-2 loss to Ecuador on Friday night.

With Jamaica set to face the Cayman Islands in the opening round of the qualifying phase of the new Concacaf Nations League today inside National Stadium at 7:00 pm, Whitmore was forced to save his senior players for the more important contest, even if it is against inferior opposition.

His inexperienced side, with most of the players having less than 10 international caps, suffered a goal in each half by Tigres UANL's Enner Valencia in the 16th minute, and a Renato Ibarra powerful strike in the 50th minute inside Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey.

“It was a good test for them, a high-quality opponent,” reflected Whitmore.

“The first half they were a bit tentative, they didn't assert themselves properly, but these are the sorts of conditions that they need to get used to —playing against high-quality opponents in atmospheres like these; and pitches like these, so it was a good test for them.”

He added: “It is now a situation of what they take away from this game in terms of the pace of the game, the atmosphere. So for me, it is for them to see what they learnt from this game and where they need to improve on.”

Valencia, the former West Ham United striker, put the South American outfit ahead from the penalty spot when he struck firmly to goalkeeper Amal Knight's left.

The penalty was awarded when Edison Vega played in the overlapping right wing back Juan Carlos Paredes, whose cross deflected off the arm of Jamaica's left wing back Ricardo Thomas.

Jamaica then went further behind when Ibarra struck powerfully past Knight from the right side of the penalty area, after his teammates contributed significantly to the self-inflicted goal with a number of misplaced passes to the opponents inside their own danger area.

Ecuador bossed possession of the game for the most part as the Reggae Boyz failed to cope adequately with their unrelenting high press, which resulted in limited space and time on the ball — a situation they are not comfortable with.

In fact, on the half-hour mark Fabion McCarthy saved his team when he denied Miler Bolanos what appeared a certain goal by sliding in to thwart danger, after Valencia had got in behind the Jamaican defence on the right.

Shortly afterwards in one of Jamaica's rare forward thrusts, Owayne Gordon crossed deep into Ecuador's penalty area but Peter-Lee Vassell failed to get enough onto the delivery and danger was averted.

Shortly after Ecuador doubled their lead, Knight pulled off a brilliant right-handed save to deny Ayrton Preciado from just outside the penalty box.

That would have been The University of the West Indies goaltender's last major contribution, as 18-year-old St Andrew Technical High School Manning Cup captain Jeadine White was given a taste of football at this level, and he did himself extremely well by commanding his area and making timely saves to keep the scoreline respectable.

In the final stages of the game the Reggae Boyz were presented with a few half chances, but they failed to convert any.

With little chance of getting the needed experience playing on the local scene, due to its obviously inferior level of play, Whitmore is charging his bosses at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to continue to provide this exposure for his young players.

“It is difficult, but we just have to challenge the JFF to continue to believe in them and give them quality opponents like this because, as I said before, they are new to this kind of pace to the game.

“If you look at the two games down the eastern Caribbean (against Grenada and Barbados last month), they were much different because the Caribbean players would play like how Jamaica play, but we can see that we have to train and go into games like these knowing what it takes to compete successfully,” ended Whitmore.

Teams: Jamaica – Amal Knight (Jeadine White 59th), Michael Hector (Damion Lowe 59th), Ladale Richie, Ricardo Thomas, Fabion McCarthy, Tevin Shaw (Je-Vaughn Watson 67th), Kevon Lambert, Ricardo Morris (Alex Marshall 59th), Owayne Gordon (Fabian Reid 67th), Peter-Lee Vassell, Romario Williams (Javon East 59th).

Booked: Hector (38th), McCarthy 69th)

Subs not used: Andre Blake, Darren Mattocks, Cory Burke, Adrian Mariappa, Kemar Lawrence

Ecuador – Alexander Dominguez, Jefferson Orejuela, Robert Arboleda, Frickson Erazo, Juan Carlos Paredes (Mario Pineida 62nd), Renato Ibarra, Cristian Ramirez, Enner Valencia (Romario Ibarra 68th), Edison Vega (Fernando Gaibor 67th), Ayrton Preciado (Fernando Guerrero 62nd), Miler Bolanos (Junior Sornoza 62nd)

Booked: None

Subs not used: Pedro Ortiz, Alan Franco, Angelo Preciado, John Jairo Espinoza, Jhegson Mendez, Gustavo Vallecilla

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