‘Tappa’ puts faith in local Boyz for Honduras game

The game will serve as vital preparation for the Reggae Boyz as they look to defend their Caribbean Cup title in Martinique and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States of America

HOUSTON, Texas – At least six locally-based players could be elevated to the starting team when Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz match wits and skills with Honduras inside the BBVA Compass Stadium here today. Match time is 7:30 pm (8:30 pm Jamaica time).

Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, in his long-term plans, had said that he would “definitely” introduce a number of the players based in Jamaica, and based on yesterday morning’s training session at the Houston Sports Park, as many as six or seven, if Michael Binns is considered locally based, will start tonight.

Those expected to start include Ladale Richie, Rosario Harriott, Owayne Gordon, Kevon Lambert, Shamar Nicholson, Jourdain Fletcher and Michael Binns.

“We will definitely see more local-based players in the starting line-up for Thursday night’s (tonight’s) game because my aim is to look beyond the Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup in the summer, but more long term over a number of years, because we want to give these players a chance to develop into quality players and it will take some time to get them to that level,” Whitmore explained to the

Jamaica Observer shortly after the team arrived here in Houston on Tuesday evening.

A transportation issue denied Whitmore and his charges from taking to the field on Tuesday night, but they used the opportunity to arrange for a morning session yesterday at the Houston Sports Park, home of Houston Dynamo, a Major League Soccer franchise.

In windy 50 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures, the Boyz were taken through a near two-hour session under the watchful eyes of Whitmore, his assistant Jerome Waite, and Director of Football Vinimore Blaine, even while today’s adversaries trained at a nearby pitch.

The Boyz were taken through their warm-up drills and technical phase by physical trainer Andre Waugh before Whitmore and his technical staff assumed responsibility for the rest of the session.

Andre Blake is expected to start in goal, with Damion Lowe and Richie in the heart of defence, flanked by Harriott and Oneil Fisher.

Captain Je-Vaughn Watson and debutant Lambert will team up in central midfield, with Binns on the left and Gordon on the right. Nicholson and Fletcher will form the two attackers responsible to craft goals.

And with only one practice session ahead of today’s game, Whitmore was keen to have his players concentrate on a few key areas of concern.

“This game gives us a chance to look at the local-based players in another competitive environment. We want to see the team organisation, team shape and team discipline, and we also want to see them limit the individual mistakes that were too many in the last game (0-1 loss to USA in Tennessee). How well we track our opponents is another area of interest, especially in the middle of the park (midfield),” assessed the technical boss.

Today’s game will serve as vital preparation for the Reggae Boyz as they look to defend their Caribbean Cup title in Martinique and the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States of America. Both tournaments are slated for later this summer.

On the other hand, Honduras, who are ranked 12 places higher than Jamaica at 65 and the recent winners of the Central American Championship, will use the game to prepare for the continuation of the Russia 2018 World Cup-qualifying campaign next month.

In their two World Cup qualifiers to date, they lost 0-1 to Panama at home before beating Trinidad and Tobago 3-1. They currently lie in fourth place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal on three points behind Costa Rica on maximum six points; Mexico on four points, as do Panama. Trinidad and Tobago and USA have yet to garner a point.

Next month Honduras are away to the USA in San Jose, California, on March 24, before returning home to face group leaders Costa Rica four days later.

Jamaica squad — Andre Blake, Ryan Thompson, Romario Williams, Andre Lewis, Damion Lowe, Oniel Fisher, Shamar Nicholson, Kevon Lambert, Fabian Grant, Kemar Lawrence, Dwayne Ambusley, Ladale Richie, Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison, Je-Vaughn Watson, Cory Burke, Jourdain Fletcher, Sergio Campbell, Rosario Harriott and Owayne Gordon.

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