Coach Whitmore buoyed by Boyz victory

“What I really liked tonight was the consistency from the last game we played against the US. I think it was very pleasing, they showed a lot of guts and a lot of commitment.

HOUSTON, United States — A passing grade!

That’s the final assessment of head coach Theodore Whitmore on his Reggae Boyz in the 1-0 triumph over Honduras in their friendly international inside the BBVA Compass Stadium here in Houston on Thursday night.

Whitmore, the France 1998 World Cup hero who scored both goals in Jamaica’s 2-1 victory over Japan, made six changes to the team which suffered a 0-1 loss to the United States of America in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on February 3, including seven players based in Jamaica.

“I would give them a passing grade tonight,” Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer as the team enjoyed dinner at Terron Henry’s Cool Runnings Jamaican Bar & Grill.

“They went out there and showed the hunger and commitment and the attitude, so definitely a passing mark,” reiterated Whitmore.

Second-generation defender Damion Lowe, son of former Reggae Boy Onandi Lowe, notched his first senior goal for Jamaica in the 71st minute when he tapped into an empty net from close range after Honduran goalkeeper Luis Lopez had palmed Romario Williams strike off the right upright.

Whitmore thought his charges displayed encouraging consistency following on the game against the US.

“What I really liked tonight was the consistency from the last game we played against the US. I think it was very pleasing, they showed a lot of guts and a lot of commitment.

“I think the first half of the game, we found it a bit difficult, but the second half we went out there, made a few substitutions and it paid off in the end, so at the end of the day I believe it was a good showing.”

The Central American champions started like a house on fire, forcing Jamaican Ryan Thompson to block behind for a corner within seconds of the first whistle, and by and large they dominated the first half without creating too many anxious moments for Thompson.

“We took a bit long to get settled — we had young (Shamar) Nicholson and (Jourdain) Fletcher up front, and (Kevon) Lambert in the middle and you could see the nervousness in them, but as the game progressed I think they got into their own,” explained Whitmore.

He further explained that it was always a part of his plan to give the local-based players as much time on the pitch as necessary.

“It was a part of the plan to give these youngsters at least an hour and I believe they put in a good shift tonight. I think they gave it their all and I figured they couldn’t go anymore, so we had to put in two experienced players in Williams (Romario) and Burke (Corey).”

The Boyz made their intentions known immediately upon the resumption when Owayne Gordon tested Lopez with a torrid shot which was pushed behind for a corner.

And they kept up the momentum, forcing runs behind the Honduran defence and on one occasion Fletcher fought off his marker midway Honduras’s half and he raced to the edge of the penalty box where his attempt with his weaker right foot sailed wide of the mark.

Corey Burke had two glorious chances to make the game safe in time added, but fluffed his lines badly with only goalkeeper Lopez to beat.

For Whitmore, there were a lot of positives to take from the game.

“The positives for me were that we kept and very compact and disciplined defensive unit and the long and short of it is that we created a number of scoring opportunities and could have easily won the game 4-0 tonight, but again it is a work in progress and we still have work to do going forward.”

Whitmore also thought that his front men used their speed to telling effect.

“The speed we used it well. Vin (Blaine, director of football) had seen the Hondurans in action and he relayed the information, so what we did was to try to play behind their wing backs because we have enough speed going forward in Gordon, Binns, Nicholson and Fletcher up front. I think that was a positive, and from defence to attack and attack to defence.

“On the negative side, I thought we indulged in too many individual plays, and our marking at times, I believe, was rushed too much instead of holding space at all times with the aim of winning back the football. I don’t think we were in the best shape to play such a game, but as we go along we just have to improve on these things.”

The coach now hopes to keep these players together in camp and for him to sit and discuss with the Jamaica Football Federation the matter. Hopefully, we get a game in March and we keep pressing the federation to get us games, even Caribbean tours because we need games for these players and these are the sort of games we need to see the Boyz in action and they will improve,” the coach said.

Meanwhile, Oneil Fisher, who played at left back, was struck in the head by a fierce left-footed free kick seven minutes upon the resumption, and he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was assessed and released.

The teams used the game as preparation for more important fixtures, with Honduras set to continue their Russia World Cup qualifying campaign next month against the US and Costa Rica, while Jamaica will look to the Caribbean Cup and the CONCACAF Gold Cup later this summer.

Teams:

Jamaica – Ryan Thompson, Damion Lowe, Ladale Richie, Rosario Harriott, Oneil Fisher Kemar Lawrence (52nd), SHamar Nicholson (Romario Williams 71st), Jourdain Fletcher (Corey Burke 71st), Kevon Lambert (Andre Lewis 75th), Michael Binns, Je-Vaughn Watson, Owayne Gordon (Ewan Grandison 90th).

Booked: Lowe (17th), Fisher (35th), Binns (48th).

Subs not used: Andre Blake, Sergio Campbell, Dwayne Ambusley, Fabian Grant.

Honduras – Luis Lopez, Felix Crisanto (Allans Vargas 79th), Ever Alvarado, Henry Figueroa, Oliver Morazan, Jorge Claros Bryan Acosta 70th), Marcelo Canales, Oscar Salas (Michael Chirinos 63rd), Rubilio Cstillo (Angel Tejeda 63rd), Eric Andino (Cristian Altamirano 79th).

Referee: Jair Marrufo

Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Mariscal

Assistant Referee 2: Ian Anderson

Fourth Official: Baldomero Toleda

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