Goal-hun­gry Boyz re­main op­ti­mistic

Daily Observer (Jamaica) - - SPORT - – Sean Wil­liams

DE­SPITE their 7-1 whip­ping of Aruba at the IMG Academy in Braden­ton, Florida, on Thurs­day, Ja­maica are still star­ing down the bar­rel as they des­per­ately try to se­cure top spot in Group B of the Con­ca­caf Men’s Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onship.

Their race to se­cure the one qual­i­fy­ing spot to the de­ci­sive fi­nal round of six teams suf­fered again when neme­sis Mex­ico put dis­tance be­tween them­selves and the Young Reg­gae Boyz with an 8-0 pound­ing of Gre­nada.

Both Ja­maica and Mex­ico have 10 points at the top of the group, but the North Amer­i­cans have a meaty goal dif­fer­ence of plus-19, while the Ja­maicans have a plus-10. In their match-up, the class teams of the group ended 2-2.

With the gulf be­tween the group’s top con­tenders so wide, Ja­maica’s best shot of cop­ping top spot would be for them to en­sure get­ting max­i­mum points from Saint Mar­tin in their fi­nal match to­day, and hope that Mex­ico fal­ter by drop­ping points ei­ther through a draw or a de­feat against Aruba.

In Group B fix­tures to­day, Ja­maica will face Saint Mar­tin at 3:00 pm, so too Nicaragua and Gre­nada. At 4:00 pm, Mex­ico and Aruba will do bat­tle. All games are at the multi-field IMG Academy.

Nicaragua are third in the group on six points, fol­lowed by Aruba (four), Gre­nada (three) and Saint Mar­tin (one)

But even in the face of the enor­mity of the odds against the Boyz, act­ing head coach Jerome Waite re­mains op­ti­mistic.

“It is an up­hill task, but de­spite that, we in­tend to go out there and do our en­deav­our best, and although Mex­ico are in the driver’s seat, we do in­tend to go out there and score as many goals be­cause it is still pos­si­ble (ad­vanc­ing to the next round),” he said from Florida yes­ter­day.

“This game has to be one of all-out at­tack and the play­ers them­selves are aware of that as they know that is the only way they will have any chance of ad­vanc­ing,” Waite added.

He is hop­ing that the re­turn of two key play­ers who missed the last game will boost the team to­day.

“Two play­ers who missed the last game – Tyreek Magee and Shan­del Se­nior – will be back, so we should be at full strength. In all of this, it is good to know you have a Ja­maican team fight­ing, tak­ing the ef­fort right down to the wire, and even if this team falls short, we must lift our hats off to them know­ing that they weren’t prop­erly pre­pared to play this tour­na­ment, but what they have done is sec­ond to none,” said Waite, who is the as­sis­tant coach for the Se­nior Reg­gae Boyz.

Look­ing back on Thurs­day’s match against Aruba, where both teams were 0-0 at half­time, the Ja­maican tac­ti­cian ex­plained the glar­ing dif­fer­ences of both halves.

“We have to give th­ese young­sters credit be­cause you would never be­lieve that the first half ended 0-0 and then for them to go and score seven in the sec­ond half.

“The Aruba team in the first half de­fended stoutly, while we cre­ated a lot of chances, but faulty ex­e­cu­tion re­sulted in us not scor­ing. The game is about two halves, and when we an­a­lysed the first half, we made some ad­just­ments as it re­lates to the sec­ond half and that bore fruits,” noted Waite.

With the ef­fort to get as many goals as pos­si­ble against Aruba, the Ar­nett Gar­dens coach ad­mit­ted that the play­ers were left feel­ing dis­ap­pointed when they re­alised that Mex­ico had scored eight unan­swered goals against Gre­nada.

“They were feel­ing a bit down at the end af­ter they learnt that Mex­ico scored all of eight goals, but as a coach­ing staff we have to lift them up and let them know that it is still pos­si­ble.

“We have an­other train­ing ses­sion to­day (yes­ter­day) and then we have the game to­mor­row (to­day), so we still have to keep work­ing although we are aware of the task, but the play­ers have re­mained up­beat and they are rar­ing to go,” Waite ended.

In their 7-1 tri­umph over Aruba, Tevin Rochester led the scor­ing with hat-trick (52nd, 64th, 90th+5), fol­lowed by a brace from Ri­cardo Mcin­tosh (84th, 90th+1). There was one apiece from Jamoi Topey (50th) and and Nicque Da­ley (70th).

Aruba’s re­sponse came from Glen­bert Croes in the 66th minute.

In the other match of the group on Thurs­day, Nicaragua got their sec­ond-con­sec­u­tive win with a 2-0 vic­tory over Saint Mar­tin. Es­tar­il­ing Acuna (49th) and Eliam Pala­cios (76th) were on the score­sheet.

Ja­maica are seek­ing to qual­ify for the sec­ond Fifa Un­der-20 World Cup, hav­ing his­tor­i­cally done so in 2001 at the Ar­gentina edi­tion.

The 2018 edi­tion of the Un­der-20 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ment is fea­tur­ing a record num­ber 34 teams. Un­like the pre­vi­ous for­mat, which in­cluded re­gional qual­i­fiers in the Caribbean and Cen­tral Amer­ica and one fi­nal cham­pi­onship, this year’s re­designed com­pe­ti­tion en­sures that all the par­tic­i­pat­ing teams have ac­cess to play more top-level foot­ball matches.

Af­ter the group phase, the six group win­ners will ad­vance to the Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Stage, where they will be di­vided into two groups of three teams. The two group win­ners plus the sec­ond-place fin­ish­ers of the Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Stage will qual­ify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019. Ad­di­tion­ally, the two group win­ners will ad­vance to the tour­na­ment’s fi­nal to de­ter­mine the re­gional cham­pion.

DA­LEY (left)... got one of Ja­maica’s goals in 7-1 win over Aruba

(Pho­tos: Ob­server file)

WAITE... it is an up­hill task, but de­spite that, we in­tend to go out there and do our en­deav­our best

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