Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz Back on Gold Trail
Whitmore adds experience to Caribbean Cup flops for Tournament
Theodore Whitmore will hoping that his Jamaica side seek revenge from their shock Caribbean Cup final defeat to Curaçao when they tackle the minnows in their opening Gold Cup group game on Sunday (6pm Jamaica time).
Interim manager Whitmore doesn’t have the same high quality mix of players that stunned the world by reaching the 2015 Gold Cup final, only to run out of steam at the last hurdle and submit to a meek 3-1 defeat against Mexico, but he is is confident.
Gone are the array of British-based players with a Jamaican grandparent, and in their place are the latest rising talents across Jamaica that have been carefully hand-picked by Whitmore. Plus there are a handful who ply their trade in North America.
With the Gold Cup kicking off today (Friday), Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have their work cut out, although they have been handed a reasonably kind draw with matches against Curaçao, Mexico (13 July) and El Salvador (16 July).
Surprisingly Whitmore, a two-goal hero against Japan at the FIFA 1998 World Cup finals, has only selected four strikers in his 23-man squad despite the obvious lack of firepower in recent months.
Cory Burke, Darren Mattock, Shamar Nicholson and Romario Williams have been given the responsibility to grab much-needed goals, although many midfielders are capable of venturing forward to strike – especially the deadly duo of Jermaine Johnson and Je-Vaughn Watson.
Whitmore, who remains upbeat about the Boyz progressing in the tournament, enthused: “We can work some miracles because we have a team that can go into the 2nd Round.
“And now we have a bit more experienced players, as against the Caribean Cup squad.”
Having submitted their Caribbean Cup crown to Curaçao with a recent 2-1 defeat, Sunday’stie is viewed as a chance to avenge that shock result.
The 70,000-capacity Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers, plays host (6pm ko Jamaica time) for what appears to be a mouth-watering game.
Mexico’s physical game will be a totally different type of game for Whitmore’s troops at the 76,000-capacity Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado (9pm ko Jamaica time) on 13 July.
And Mexico manager Juan Carlos Oscario will be banned from the dug-out after today’s FIFA fine and immediate six-match ban following the ruling that he was guilty of throwing “insulting words at match officials”.
The Boyz tackle their last Group C game against El Salvador at the 65,000-capcity all-purpose stadium of Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas (7pm ko Jamaica time) on July 16.
Jamaica are building for the future, albeit on a budget, so their latest foray on the international stage is most unlikely to be a glittering one like 2015 – although players do have the chance to shine and make a name for themselves.
JAMAICA SQUAD: Goalkeepers – Andre Blake, Damion Hyatt, Dwayne Miller; Defenders – Sergio Campbell, Oneil Fisher, Shaun Francis, Rosario Harriott, Kemar Lawrence, Damion Lowe, Alvas Powell, Ladale Richie, Jermaine Taylor; Midfielders – Michael Binns, Owayne Gordon, Ewan Grandison, Jermaine Johnson, Kevon Lambert, Ricardo Morris, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kevon Lambert; Strikers – Cory Burke, Darren Mattock, Shamar Nicholson, Romario Williams.
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