Sport

Whitmore seeks balance as Boyz face Ecuador test

BY IAN BURNETT
Sport Editor

Friday, September 07, 2018

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PARSIPPANY, New Jersey — A number of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz will be put under the microscope when they face Ecuador in a training match inside New York Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, today.

Match time is 8:00 pm (7:00 pm Jamaica time).

With the qualifying phase of the new Concacaf Nations League set to kick off less than 48 hours later with Jamaica facing the Cayman Islands inside the National Stadium in Kingston on Sunday, Head Coach Theodore Whitmore is looking to test the waters with a few of his players.

Twenty-six-year-old defender Michael Hector, who recently moved to Sheffield Wednesday from Chelsea on loan, will get playing time under his belt as he's yet to feature for the English Championship outfit since moving there this season.

“We want to be organised and competitive. We get a chance to see some players in a competitive environment, players who can give us depth going forward and also give us balance in the squad, so we hope to give a good performance,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer shortly after the team completed its third training session at Red Bull training facility yesterday.

“Our main focus is the Nations League, which is a few hours later, so there is not much we can do between, but it will be a balanced team. Obviously, I want to give Hector (Michael) some playing time because he has not been playing regularly, having just moved clubs, so we want to give him at least 45 minutes under his belt.

“We have a number of players we want to see like a Peter-Lee Vassell. He's been playing well for the country; Amal Knight will be in goal tomorrow, just to name a few,” he revealed.

The two teams have met in friendly internationals on three occasions, with the South American nation holding the upper hand with two victories and a draw.

They first met in 1996 when Ecuador won 2-1 at home. They followed up with a 0-0 result in the US in 2009, and Ecuador won the last encounter in convincing fashion, 5-2 in the high altitude of Quito in 2011.

Today's game did not get a FIFA friendly international classification, but a lower ranked training match, which means that the result will not weigh in on the FIFA rankings, nor will any statistics be recorded.

Nonetheless, Whitmore wants his side to give of its best and continue to progress as a unit, even as he places one eye on the possibility of injuries and fatigue heading into Sunday's game.

On Wednesday Whitmore lost the services of right wing-back Alvas Powell of Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer. The robust player aggravated a groin muscle and was released from the team and sent back to his club. Team doctor Cary Fletcher believes the injury to be a tear, or severely inflamed, and said that the player could be out for up to a month.

At yesterday's practice, Amal Knight tended goal guarded by Michael Hector and Ladale Richie in central defence, flanked by Ricardo Thomas on the left and Fabion McCarthy on the right.

Tevin Shaw and Kevon Lambert were deployed as central holding midfielders, with Ricardo Morris (left), Pater-Lee Vassell (central) and Owayne Gordon (right) tasked with creating havoc in attack behind striker Romario Williams.

Meanwhile, Ecuador have lost their last five games: 0-1 to Paraguay in a friendly this past May; 1-3 to Argentina at home; 1-2 to Chile away; 1-2 to Peru at home and 0-2 to Brazil away in the 2018 CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying series. Prior to that Ecuador had defeated Trinidad and Tobago 3-1 in a friendly international.

players of the calibre of Manchester United's captain Antonio Valencia, Enner Valencia, Felipe Caicedo, Miller Bolanos, Jefferson Montero, among others.

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