In It To Win It, Says Reggae Boyz Coach Whitmore

Jamaica’s National Senior Men’s Football Team Head Coach Theodore Whitmore has made it clear that his Reggae Boyz are aiming to win this year’s edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, following on near misses in recent editions.

Whitmore, the former Reggae Boyz standout midfielder who scored both goals in his team’s 2-1 win over Japan at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, has made it clear that the group wants to improve on its second-place finish at the 2015 and 2017 renewals.

And more importantly, he wants to be the first Jamaican coach to land the region’s premier trophy, having already triumphed at the Caribbean level.

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“I want a good showing and I want to be the first local coach to win this tournament, and this is very important, and it starts tomorrow afternoon (today) against Suriname,” the head coach told a virtual press conference on Sunday.

He added: “I think it’s an interesting tournament and we are here to win. As a coach this competition has eluded me in 2017 and 2019 (when he led the Reggae Boyz to the semi-final before finishing fourth), so we are looking forward to a good show in this 2021 edition.”

The Reggae Boyz kick off their 2021 campaign with a 6:30 pm engagement against Suriname today at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida in Group C action, with Costa Rica facing Guadeloupe at 9:00 pm at the same venue.

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And Whitmore believes that to win the tournament, his charges, who have been in a training camp from July 1, will have to start on the front foot today.

“We went to the final in 2017 and we went to the semi-final in 2019, so the whole preparation starts tomorrow night (tonight) and for us to reach the final we have to do well, and I think we have the guys to go out there and perform.”

He noted that his team will leave “nothing to chance” and they are prepared to give their best at all times.

One player expected to lead the way is Bayer Levekusen’s wily winger Leon Baily, who performed below his high standard last time out.

“Leon Bailey is here and he wants to do well. Just yesterday (Saturday) we were having a conversation where he said he had scored only one time for the country, and we don’t want to put him under any excessive pressure, but I think he is in the right frame of mind, and he is here to do well in this tournament.”

And although one player, Ravel Morrison is yet to join the group as he awaits a US visa, Whitmore is pleased with the time spent at the training camp.

“I think for this tournament we are comfortable with what we are doing and with what we have achieved so far, and we are looking for the greatest to happen in this tournament,” he noted.

The Reggae Boyz close out group play on July 16 and 20.

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