National senior men’s football team head coach Theodore Whitmore says the absence of the injured Leon Bailey and Bobby Reid for today’s Concacaf Nations League game will give others an opportunity to step up.
The Reggae Boyz face Aruba in Group C of the Concacaf Nations League B this afternoon, and Whitmore is confident of victory despite missing two key pieces of his team, but he expects the Arubans to give them a difficult match.
Every game is important now, and these two (games) coming up against Aruba, we know what we have to do in terms of our goals and objectives,” he said. “They know that if we win the group, we will qualify for the next Gold Cup, so we want to maintain consistency in playing in the top six of Hexagonal [FIFA World Cup Qualifiers] because outside of that is serious business.
“We are full of expectation, but we have a number of players injured, like a Leon Bailey will be missing, but it’s a chance for other players to seize the opportunity, and we are looking for a good performance from the guys. We just want to continue where the players left off (from the Guyana game). We know it’s not going to be easy, but we have set our eyes on the task. It’s going to be difficult, but we can make it easy by doing the simple things and putting the ball in the net like we have been doing for the last two games.”
Aruba lost their last two matches by one-goal margins, losing 1-0 to Guyana and 2-1 to Antigua and Barbuda, and although Whitmore’s team has been rampaging their the group with a 6-0 win over Antigua and Barbuda, and a 4-0 whipping of Guyana, he anticipates the Arubans lifting their game.
“Any country to come up against Jamaica is going to be tough,” Whitmore says. “We don’t want to look at the last two games Aruba played. We have our objective, and it doesn’t matter who we are playing. Anyone in our way, we have to look to get past them, and that’s what we are looking to do [today] and finish it off on Tuesday. ”Whitmore said young talents Lamar Walker and Ajeanie Talbott could also see game time providing things go according to plan.
“We have 23 players in the squad, and it’s one reason they are here, and that is to play,” he said. “So at some given time (they can go in). We have two games, so the player you see [today] may not be the ones you see Tuesday because we have to strike a balance with fresh legs, so it all depends. But the players show a lot of enthusiasm in training. They look confident, so it’s just for us to go out and leave it on the field,” he said.
The game kicks off at the National Stadium at 5:00 p.m.