Sun | May 28, 2023

Experienced squad for Mexico clash

Coach Hallgrimsson expects better decision-making and execution

Published:Tuesday | March 21, 2023 | 12:58 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Leon Bailey
Leon Bailey
Damion Lowe (front)
Damion Lowe (front)

With only seven players retained from the Trinidad and Tobago international series, national senior men’s head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson is hoping that tactically and technically, they will see much better decision-making and execution in their Concacaf Nations League clash against Mexico next Sunday.

The 23-man squad for the Mexico City showdown was released yesterday and featured notable call-ups from their previous camp including Wolverhampton’s Dexter Lembiksia, Dunbeholden’s Demario Phillips, and Mount Pleasant’s Trivante Stewart. Hallgrimsson also welcomes back Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock and Minnesota United’s Kemar Lawrence into the fold after lengthy absences. Additionally, English-born midfielder Jonathan Russell earns his first senior call-up. A notable omission from the Trinidad series is teenage forward Dujuan Richards. Michail Antonio and Andre Blake are also out due to injuries.

While outlining the difficulties during the Trinidad series with a mostly local-based group, Hallgrimsson says that he hopes to see a better tactical performance with a more experienced group.

“We were not happy with how we played, a lot of technical mistakes, but those players haven’t played together, so there were misunderstandings between players. But there were a lot of long balls, way too many. There was a lack of patience on the ball and a lack of confidence in creativity on the ball,” Hallgrimsson said in a press conference yesterday. “Our tactics will be solely for this Mexico camp. So we will have some things that we would like to emphasise in our attacking and then other things in our defensive game. This is a totally different team with more experienced players used to playing at the highest level, used to playing national teams games.”

The majority of the players used against Trinidad were locally based as well as some United Kingdom-based talent who had their first taste of senior football at the international level, and Hallgrimsson said he wanted to see what those selected from that camp could do in a meaningful game.

“We want to see how they will do playing with more experienced players. I think that they will take a step up by playing with better players around them. Not that others were bad but just because we want to see these guys. There were positions that we needed, so we looked to the guys we just started work with. In the future, we will not take so many from the local league, but let’s see how they do.

A spot in the Concacaf Nations League semi-finals in June is on the line, a destination Hallgrimsson is hoping to reach. When asked about possible impatience from fans in outlining his target to win, Hallgrimsson said it was not connected to that.

“This is just a different assignment, a different task. Of course, that is the priority, and it is highly important for us. It would help us a lot to go to the semi-finals. That would give us two preparation matches for the Gold Cup. It is always better to play official matches rather than friendlies,” Hallgrimsson said.

Mexico will play Suriname on Thursday before they host Jamaica on Sunday. The squad is currently in camp in Montego Bay for one week before they travel to Mexico City for the game. Jamaica lead the group with five points while Mexico are on four points.

Jamaica squad for Concacaf Nations League game against Mexico:

Amarii Bell, Jamal Lowe, Ethan Pinnock, Jonathan Russell, Bobby Reid, Demario Phillips, Dexter Lembiksia, Adrian Mariappa, Kevon Lambert, Jahmali Waite, Corey Burke, Damion Lowe, Daniel Johnson, Ravel Morrison, Kaheem Parris, Richard King, Shamar Nicholson, Trivante Stewart, Coniah Boyce-Clarke, Amal Knight, Javian Brown, Kemar Lawrence, Leon Bailey.