Theodore Whitmore, suffering from stomach ache before the Jamaica’s stuttering 4-0 defeat to Japan’s Olympic side on Saturday (12 June), will no doubt now have a selection headache after his rejigged starting line-up failed big time.
Having so superbly thwarted European heavyweights Serbia with a tactical 1-1 stalemate earlier in the week, the next encounter was meant to be a breeze in the park for the Reggae Boyz head coach Whitmore.
Yet in Jamaica’s last game before they tackle the CONCACAF Gold Cup in North America there were massive flaws and the side came crashing back to earth with a thud. Even host goalkeeper Kosei Tani was made to feel redundant throughout the friendly inside the Toyota Stadium in central Japan’s Aichi Prefecture.
The pre-match words from Jamaica assistant coach Jerome Waite, who took over the online press conference because of Whitmore’s stomach ache, seemed to be the total opposite of what happened on the pitch.
Waite stated: “We hope to showcase our strengths, organisation and concentration are our strengths. Speed will be a key factor in this match and we know it will not be easy, but we hope to earn a positive result.”
Japan’s Olympic side were hungry to show-off their skills, in a bid to be selected in their nation’s 18-man squad announced later this month. There speed down both wings and relentless attacks saw them rewarded for their guile and tenaciousness with well-taken strikes from Takefusa Kubo, Wataru Endo, Ao Tanaka and Ritsu Doan.
Straight from kick-off the Jamaicans were put under pressure, outplayed in every department and slower to the ball.
Kaoru Mitoma’s early penalty appeal was turned down, and the overworked defence did well to block close range efforts from Daizen Maeda and Reo Hatate.
Kubo came close to breaking the deadlock but he struck the near post with a thumping drive from the edge of the area after 20 minutes as Japan totally dominated.
Dillon Barnes, making his Jamaica debut between the sticks, managed to save shots from Endo and Doan. But the QPR ‘keeper was beaten by Kubo’s sensational 32nd-minute goal, which was scored shortly after a water break.
Tricky winger Kubo, on loan with Getafe from Spanish giants Real Madrid, cut in from the right wing before powerfully threading the ball past the packed defence into the back of the net for a deserved and overdue lead.
Endo doubled their cushion 10 minutes later, superbly curling his 60-foot effort into the far corner past stunned ‘keeper Barnes.
Ayase Ueda, who made his appearance at half-time, almost made it three early in the second half but he was denied by the crossbar.
Tanaka snatched their third goal with a cheeky chip on 57 minutes, superbly polishing off Mitoma’s neat throughball to send the majority of the 5,000 spectators into a wild frenzy.
Two substitutes caused Barnes problems. Yuki Soma mischievously rounded him to set up Doan’s 64th-minute strike, but Barnes did well to prevent Koji Miyoshi from adding a fifth goal.
Japan, who saw off Ghana’s Olympic side 6-0 last week, had 17 shots for the back four of Amari’i Bell, Oniel Fisher, Liam Moore and Curtis Tilt to deal with.
Kevon Lambert, Ravel Morrison, Blair Turgott and Devon Williams were constantly pegged back in midfield as waves of attacks from the hosts left Jamaica firmly on the back foot.
Despite playing a forward line of Kemal Malcolm and Javon East, there was just the single effort from the toothless Boyz and that was never going to end up in the back of the net.
This result leaves Whitmore pondering his squad selection for the Gold Cup, although from this latest outing there are certainly a handful of players who ought to be dropped as collectively they have undone the head coach’s magnificent job achieved against Serbia.
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