Boyz in cru­cial clash

Jamaica Gleaner - - TUESDAY SPORTS - Gleaner Writer Liv­ingston Scott

JA­MAICA’S REG­GAE Boyz will try to sal­vage lost pride to­day when they bow into ac­tion in Group One of Round Three in the Caribbean Foot­ball Union (CFU) Sco­tia­bank Caribbean Cup qual­i­fiers against Guyana, at the Leonora Sta­dium in Guyana, start­ing 8 p.m.

All but one of Ja­maica’s na­tional foot­ball teams (men’s Un­der-17) have crashed out of their re­spec­tive qual­i­fy­ing tour­na­ments over the last year, in­clud­ing the flag­ship se­nior team for the 2018 World Cup, leav­ing the 2017 Caribbean Cup and Gold Cup as the only re­demp­tion for the down-in-luck Boyz.

How­ever, coach Theodore Whit­more ap­pears to have as­sem­bled a strong 22-man squad, which in­cludes 11 over­seas-based play­ers and 11 from home. The squad at Whit­more’s dis­posal is ex­pected to get the win against Guyana, who beat An­guilla 7-0 and Puerto Rico 1-0 in the first round, be­fore los­ing 5-2 to Cu­raçao and beat­ing the US Vir­gin Is­lands to ad­vance to the third round as one of three best third-place teams.

Fol­low­ing the Reg­gae Boyz’s mis­er­able exit from 2018 World Cup qual­i­fy­ing, Whit­more has drafted a num­ber of up­com­ing prospects, who the pub­lic has been call­ing for, in­clud­ing three of the most pro­lific strik­ers lo­cally in the last three years – Dino Wil­liams, Owayne Gor­don and Cory Burke (both now play­ing over­seas).

There was also space for Michael Binns and Ladale Ritchie, Ewan Gran­di­son, Dwayne Am­burs­ley, Al­lan Ottey, An­drew Vanzie, and Rosario Har­riott.

The over­seas cast in­cludes sea­soned cam­paign er J e-Vaughn Wat­son, Kem ar Lawrence, Omar Hol­ness and goal­keeper An­dré Blake.

CHANCE TO ES­TAB­LISH THEM­SELVES

Ja­maica’s team man­ager Roy Simp­son said the play­ers have set­tled in well, and with the ma­jor­ity of the squad be­ing non-reg­u­lars of the start­ing team, he ex­pects them to use the chance to es­tab­lish them­selves.

“All the play­ers who were ex­pected are here with us. They are re­ally up­beat and they ready to seize the op­por­tu­nity af­forded to them by the coach,” Simp­son told The Gleaner.

Ja­maica’s first game against Suri­name, the other team in the group, was sched­uled for last Wed­nes­day, but it was post­poned be­cause of the dan­gers posed by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

Suri­name stopped Guyana 3-2 on Satur­day to take the lead in the group with three points, which means Ja­maica can­not af­ford to lose this game, as Suri­name would top the group and claim the au­to­matic Gold Cup spot, which is re­served only for the four group win­ners.

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