Reggae Boyz Win Island Bragging Rights Over Bitter Rivals
Jamaica’s Whitmore scores hat-trick over Trinidad & Tobago
Theodore Whitmore continued his winning record against Trinidad & Tobago by masterminding a hard fought 2-1 triumph at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo in Thursday’s friendly.
The Jamaica coach, in his third stint in charge of the Reggae Boyz, made it a hat-trick of victories with his largely experimental squad that was predominantly locally-based. Debutant Jamiel Hardware broke the deadlock to put Jamaica ahead after six minutes, but the hosts equalised five minutes later through Kevon Villaroel. With Fabian Reid, another debutant, snatching the glory with a 57th-minute winner.
Delighted Whitmore had previously seen off the Soca Warriors 3-1 in Trinidad, and followed it up a 1-0 success at the National Stadium in Kingston. Whitmore said: “The Trinidad & Tobago team is pretty decent team, and with just a bit of luck we were really fortunate.
“They created numerous chances and just failed to out them away, the good thing for them is that they are creating chances.”
Hardware, a last-gasp replacement in the squad for Jamie Robinson, was one of seven debutants for the Boyz with Whitmore planning to build on their run to last month’s Gold Cup final.
With Whitmore’s salary and squad budget far inferior to former head coach Winfried Schäfer, he is focused on the future so selected just six players from the Gold Cup squad to visit T&T – Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison, Rosario Harriott, Ricardo Morris, Shamar Nicholson and Ladale Ritchie.
But a different squad is expected for the tougher task of tackling rejuvenated Canada at the BMO Stadium in Toronto on 2 September.
Ricardo Morris picked out unmarked Hardware in the box who did well to slot home past shotstopper Marvin Phillip for an early lead.
Hardware explained: “I feel super excited knowing that I wasn’t in the squad at first and then scoring, it’s a dream come true.”
The Soca Warriors pushed to claw themselves back into the match, but it was goalkeeper Shaven Paul who was at fault for the equaliser.
He made a nervous start on his international debut by misjudging Villaroel’s cross-turned-shot, which left the Boyz blushing having dominated the opening exchanges.
Paul said: “The goal caught me out at the front post and it went over my head at the back post, it was just unfortunate.”
Reid, who scored what proved to be the winner early in the second half, admitted: “I was disappointed with the first goal we conceded, it wasn’t the way you want to start.”
Paul went from zero to hero with a composed second-half display between the stick, which included seeing off the danger of tricky striker Hashim Arcia in a one-on-one scenario.
Portmore United’s Paul confessed: “I started shaky but I finished better, I’m grateful for the experience and it will only get better going forward.
“My second half was much better because I came out with confidence and the save with Arcia helped me a lot.”
The Soca Warriors will be disappointed to have tasted defeat ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifier in Honduras on September 1.
And it is the Reggae Boyz who are focused even further ahead, on qualifying for FIFA 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. The Boyz have produced workmanlike performances under Whitmore, who has managed to squeeze the best of limited resources and exceed expectations.
Whitmore, whose contract expires in October, said: “Against quality opponents like a Trinidad & Tobago, who are preparing for back-to-back World Cup Qualifying games, it gives us a chance to look at other players. We need more games like these for our local players because this is our base.
“Yet for the Canada game it will be a balance of overseas and local players, we want to give them proper international games because we don’t want to just be practising alone.”
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