Clear aim

Whitmore's main focus on Boyz Nations League opener

Thursday, September 06, 2018

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EDISON, United States — As much as Jamaica's Reggae Boyz can expect much stiffer competition from Ecuador in their training match on Friday evening, Head Coach Theodore Whitmore's main aim is to garner three points against the Cayman Islands in Sunday's Concacaf Nations League opener inside the National Stadium.

South American outfit Ecuador are stationed at 60th on the FIFA Men's ranking list, six places below the Reggae Boyz at 54th, but well above the 202nd-ranked the Cayman Islands.

The Boyz oppose Ecuador inside the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on Friday at 7:00 pm, while less than 48 hours later they open the new Concacaf Nations League against the Cayman Islands, also at 7:00 pm.

The Jamaica Observer understands that Friday's game failed to meet the FIFA International Friendly standard and as such no statistics will be documented and no ranking points will be allotted to either team. Still, the game bears the names of two nations competing to determine which is better.

Whitmore, who took his troops through their first full-pitch session since arriving here in batches starting Sunday morning, was in no doubt where his main focus lies.

“As much as we have a tough opponent to play on Friday night my main focus is the game on Sunday, taking into consideration the Friday night game is a training game, but still it is the national team and we want to give of our best and we want to as much as possible put a balanced team to represent us,” he told the Observer shortly after the team ended practice at the Red Bull training facility yesterday.

Whitmore plans to execute a delicate balancing act, as he tries to rest as much as possible on the players he intends to employ on Sunday, even while he tries to inject some amount of strength in the unit.

“I just have to sit and look at the best options. Most of the players who will be playing on Sunday won't take much part in the game on Friday night, so that's the approach I plan to take in the game here.”

The coach admitted being unaware of the stipulations regarding the “training match” against Ecuador as it relates the number of substitutions, etc, but said he would await the guidelines from the Match Co-ordination Meeting today.

And regarding Tuesday's first practice on the training pitch at Red Bull facility, Whitmore said: “A bit humid, but the good thing is that we got in a nice sweat and got the boys to come together for the first time, so for me it was pleasing.

“The players were a bit tired, which we expected; that's why we wanted to get them out on the pitch, but I believe as the days go by it will get better.”

For yesterday's scheduled session and another today, Whitmore said he would concentrate on the tactical side of things in preparation for the games.

Meanwhile, Alvas Powell of Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer, was released from the squad ahead of yesterday's training session to return to his club after he aggravated a groin injury.

—Ian Burnett

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