Thu | Dec 9, 2021

Case for the defence

Whitmore hopes Boyz have closed defensive frailties after consecutive clean sheets

Published:Sunday | October 17, 2021 | 12:06 AMDaniel Wheeler - Staff Reporter
Jamaica’s  Je-Vaughn Watson in action against Canada  during the Concacaf World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Sunday, October 10.
Jamaica’s Je-Vaughn Watson in action against Canada during the Concacaf World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Sunday, October 10.
Jamaica’s head coach Theodore Whitmore shouting instructions from the sidelines during the October 10 Concacaf World Cup qualifier against Canada at the National Stadium.
Jamaica’s head coach Theodore Whitmore shouting instructions from the sidelines during the October 10 Concacaf World Cup qualifier against Canada at the National Stadium.

Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore.
Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore.
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National senior men’s head coach Theodore Whitmore says that their recent defensive performances have given him encouragement after a rocky start to their Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign. The Reggae Boyz got their first win in six attempts...

National senior men’s head coach Theodore Whitmore says that their recent defensive performances have given him encouragement after a rocky start to their Concacaf World Cup qualifying campaign.

The Reggae Boyz got their first win in six attempts on Wednesday, defeating Honduras 2-0 in San Pedro Sula to also mark the first time that the team has managed to beat the Hondurans on their turf. It was not the only trend that they managed to set as they posted back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in the campaign, reversing a struggling start that saw them concede eight goals in their first four games, including their 3-0 home loss to Panama in September.

Whitmore says that he was pleased with the efforts which continued from their 0-0 draw with Canada on Sunday, and said that he hoped that having consecutive shutouts is the start of the backline being more solid going forward.

“I would want to think so. From the United States game, we have been doing a lot of defensive work and it paid off in the Canada game and the Honduras game,” Whitmore said.

Without key players

It has been a defence that has had to operate without key players such as England-based centre-backs Liam Moore and Ethan Pinnock, who withdrew from the October international window because of injury. Alvas Powell went down injured in both the United States and Canada games and was ruled out for the Honduras trip, while Damion Lowe was suspended for the Canada game because of yellow card accumulation. Veteran Je-Vaughn Watson had to be called into service as a starter for all three games, at one point being a makeshift centre-back on Sunday, and Oneil Fisher getting the start to fill that full-back role. Fisher was praised for his defensive performance in limiting Canada’s Alphonso Davies and scored his first international goal on Wednesday, securing the Honduras win.

While Whitmore is still keeping his feet on the ground with only five points so far, he said that he saw the necessary attitude from his players to get the job done.

“You can never be too satisfied. There is always room for improvement. But Wednesday you saw the commitment, the players dug in. They wanted it and they deserved it.”

With less than a month before the next pair of games, Whitmore wouldn’t say whether he has his best combination going forward but hopes that he will have all the necessary players available for November, to avoid the problems he had to endure in this window.

“We have a core of players. We have other players out who will be added. It’s just for us to see and come up with the best possible (group),” Whitmore said.

Jamaica will play El Salvador on November 12 before hosting the United States on November 16.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com