Photo: Owayne Gordon wll start in midfield for the Reggae Boyz against Canada in the Gold Cup quarter finals today.
Having survived the proverbial storm to reach the quarterfinal stages of the CONCACAF Gold Cup competition, Jamaica will take on Canada today in their first must win game of the tournament, at the University of Phoenix stadium starting at 6:30pm local time.
Jamaica finished runners-up in Group C, having won once while drawing twice, but will now have to win in an effort to make the final four of the competition in which they finished second last time around.
Oniel Fisher has had a lot of influence down the right flank for Jamaica but will miss the game due to a sore hamstring but head coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore is confident that his unit can get the better of the North Americans. Sean Francis will replace the injured Fisher.
“We keep improving and that’s a plus for us. Our quarter final game…we want to treat it just like the start of the competition. It’s a very important game…it’s a play to finish game and I think the Boyz know the task at hand and we are ready to go.”
“We can’t be worried at this stage we just have to be positive. We have 23 players and at all times we try to put an 11 out there to do the job and if not then we have substitutes, so I am pretty confident with what we have,” said the confident head coach.
Whitmore who admitted to having seen only a little of the Canadians says he is focused on preparing his team but suggested that his opponents must have been doing something right to advance in the competition.
The Jamaican head honcho is looking for a much better start to the game than the previous three performances to date.
“We will approach the game just like the approach we took against El Salvador, the problem I had is that we wanted to start the game (faster). We have seen a much better second half (performance) in the El Salvador game but in a quarter final of this magnitude we want to start from the get go.”
Owayne Gordon who has come on as a substitute in previous games will start in midfield with Jevaughn Watson while the backline remains the same.
Captain Andre Blake has come up trumps in between the stick for Jamaica and has been one of the standout players for Whitmore so far. He plays against some of the Canadian players in the MLS and is confident that as long as his teammates stick to the game plan then the Reggae Boyz can be confident of victory.
Alphonso Davies who is only 16 years old has been one of the top players so far in the competition and the Canadian striker will most likely come in for special treatment by the Jamaican defence.
Whitmore will be treating the game like a final and will be focused on getting a positive result.
“To reach the final we have to get pass Canada…the game against Canada is our final because it will decide if we advance or not so we have to treat the game like a final. We know that he (Davies) can hurt us and we are aware of what he has to offer.”
Blake is happy with the mood in the camp and believes that the team has progressed nicely so far.
“The mood in the camp has been good and hopefully we can transition that unto the field. There is still some stuff that needs improvement but it’s still a work in progress and I think the longer we stay together the more we are gelling. Once we can keep this group of players together and keep everybody committed to the task at hand the sky is the limit.
“Canada is a very good team but we have no doubt, we believe in everybody here and we know what everyone is capable of doing, so we know that once we go out there and everybody bring our A game, play to the best of their ability and have the fighting spirit, we have what it takes. Canada is a very good team, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s definitely possible to get a good result.”
Darren Mattocks has scored two of the three Reggae Boyz goals so far in the tournament and will continue to lead the line today.