It will be a battle of the bottom two when Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz visit Costa Rica for the third round of matches in the final phase of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers today.
Match time is 9:00 pm (EST) inside the National Stadium in San Jose, which has been permitted to accept 30 per cent of its 35,000 capacity in a COVID-19 countermeasure.
After two of the 14 rounds, Mexico lead with maximum six points, followed by Panama on four points, with USA, Honduras, Canada, and El Salvador on two points, with Costa Rica on one point and Jamaica rooted to the foot of the table pointless.
In the other matches to be played today, Canada host El Salvador, Panama are at home to Mexico, and Honduras welcome the United States.
The Reggae Boyz opened against Mexico at the Azteca and were well set at 1-1 entering the final moments of regulation time when they conceded the winner, but in their last game at home to Panama, they appeared shambolic at best, after eight changes were effected by head coach Theodore Whitmore.
“We have to just put the last two games behind us… Our main focus now is on the Costa Rica game. We know what we have to do, there’s no need to panic; we have to just go out there and get the job done,” Theodore Whitmore, the Boyz head coach, told the Jamaica Observer newspaper from the team’s base in Costa Rica on Tuesday.
“As a coach, I’m always confident in that I know what the players [can do]. You might have some unfortunate situations, like the last game, but I have confidence in this group,” he continued.
With travel restrictions implemented by the United Kingdom Government which has ruled out the England-based players, Whitmore has reverted to the squad which opposed Mexico last Thursday night, with the exception of Richard King who has been omitted for veteran midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, the soon-to-be 38-year-old.
Midfield has been a problematic area for Whitmore and in Watson, he has a player who can do a job in these desperate times.
Whitmore believes today’s challenge is no different from the others during this stage of Concacaf qualifying.
“Every game in this qualifying round is going to be tough. We just have to get the mental and physical sides ready and go out there for a tough encounter,” he said.
In the sides’ previous meeting Jamaica squandered several goalscoring opportunities before going down 0-1 to the 10-man Costa Ricans at the group stage of this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup in the United States.
The CONCACAF final round of qualifying comprises eight teams playing in a round-robin, home and away format.
The top three teams at the end will progress automatically to the 2022 World Cup, with the fourth-place finisher earning the right to an Intercontinental play-off for one more spot in Qatar.
Jamaica squad: Andre Blake, Dillon Barnes, Dennis Taylor, Damion Lowe, Adrian Mariappa, Alvas Powell, Kemar Lawrence, Devon Williams, Junior Flemmings, Cory Burke, Shamar Nicholson, Oniel Fisher, Blair Turgott, Norman Campbell, Ricardo Morris, Anthony Grant, Je-Vaughn Watson, Tyreek Magee, Lamar Walker, Peter Vassell, Javon East, Romario Williams, Javain Brown.