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Reggae Boys Coach, ‘ Whitmore’ aims to use defend tactics on upcoming friendly match

By on February 2, 2017

Reggae Boyz Head Coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore says he wants to focus on the defensive element of the team for their friendly match against the hosts at Finley Stadium here tomorrow evening.

Game time is 7:00 pm, the same as Jamaica.

News that veteran wide defender, New York Red Bulls’ Kemar ‘Taxi’ Lawrence, will be a late withdrawal, after an MRI scan by his club revealed a groin problem, couldn’t have come at a more inopportune moment.

“What we want to concentrate on is our defensive play in the way we set it up, and as you should know by now, Kemar Lawrence is out, and that area again we have to look at.

“So that’s the area (defence) we more likely will be looking at and how we approach this US team,” Whitmore told the

Jamaica Observer yesterday.

But the Jamaica coach believes finding a replacement within the squad for Lawrence and augmenting the team tactically overall for the clash with the USA, will be a matter of course.

“Yes, I think we have a balanced squad here as we always try to select the team with balance in mind… basically, we will be looking at our tactical set-up as you know that the US have been in training long, so we have to know how to press them in the areas of the field we want to press them.

“The players in the USA team will want to impress their coach (Bruce) Arena as they want to be in the final squad for the World Cup qualification games, so everybody will want to impress. We, on the other hand, have to impress as well, so it’s going to be a tough and intriguiung game,” Whitmore said.

With 11 local-based players travelling from Jamaica on Tuesday, and with Pittsburgh Riverhounds defender Sergio Campbell joining that group on the same day, the US-based players of the original 20-man squad were still arriving in south-eastern Tennessee at press time yesterday.

With a downsized training session scheduled for yesterday, Whitmore has planned a full-scale exercise today with all players expected to be on the field.

Whitmore, a hero of Jamaica’s France 1998 World Cup, admitted that while he would have wanted all the players together sooner, there was little that could have been done as the US-based players are in the height of preseason training and the game is scheduled outside of the official FIFA calendar.

Instead, he preferred to celebrate the chance to give the players, especially the local cadre, high-quality opposition as he moves up gears in preparation for the Caribbean Cup in June and the CONCACAF Gold Cup a month later.

“You have to look at the timing of the game, so I don’t want it to seem like a complaint as we welcome the game as these are the sorts of games we want to see our local players in, (as) I just don’t want to see them playing against Premier League all-star teams,” said the former Tranmere Rovers midfielder.

Jamaica will face Honduras in another friendly in Houston, Texas, on February 16.

Whitemore, who is in the early phase of his second stint as head coach of the senior Boyz, had expressed disappointment with the level of preparedness when measured against what the USA have been doing, but opted to focus on long term goals.

“If you are only talking about the US game, then I am not comfortable (with overall preparation), but we are looking at the bigger picture and that is the CFU tournament and the Gold Cup.

“But, as I have said before, the players are improving and I am very pleased with the level of commitment they have been showing over the past couple of weeks,” Whitmore ended.