REGGAE BOYZ NEED A ‘QUICK FIX’ BY WAY OF A DEVELOPMENTAL...
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Jamaica begins the final round of matches on October 12 when they play Guatemala at the Mateo Flores Stadium knowing that beating Guatemala and Antigua will guarantee them a place in the final qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup that comes up in Brazil in 2014. The final match of the round will be played at the National Stadium on October 16 against Antigua and Barbuda.
The Reggae Boyz are currently locked in a three-way tie on points with the United States and Guatemala but they trail both teams on goal difference. The USA and Guatemala have both scored six goals and conceded four, while Jamaica, never known for its high scoring performances have scored four goals while conceding three.
One of the reasons why Jamaica trails on goal difference is due mainly to missed opportunities against Guatemala where at home in June, and not doing a good enough job in the final third against Antigua and against the United States in their last match when they went down 0-1 to the home team in Ohio. Jamaica has always struggled to score goals and that lies in the fact that the Boyz lack the right system of play in the final third, they might also lack the players with the technical and tactical skills.
From a system’s perspective, Jamaica plays reasonably well from its defensive third through to its mid-field. However, from there going forward is where most of the problems lie. Jamaica has a tendency to kick the ball forward more in hope that someone will be there at the end of it, but that’s not how one plays football. There has to be a plan to get players forward in sufficient numbers and then a plan to maintain possession and employing patience as the team looks to create gaps in the opposing team’s defensive line.
What currently happens is that the ball is kicked forward and if a Reggae Boy happens to gain possession he – more often than not – has no one to pass to. If the player is on the flank, he swings the ball across into the 18-yard box where maybe, if he is lucky, there will be two teammates waiting in between six defensive players which invariably means they give up possession and are forced to retreat.
That being said, the area that I think needs most improvement is the midfield and forwards ability to show for the ball, receive and pass consistently. In many of the games Jamaican defenders and midfielders won possession of the ball but had too few options to make a safe and constructive passes. This is a huge weakness in terms of their ability to dictate the tempo of a game and consistently create good scoring chances for the forwards. Jamaica must develop the ability to consistently break teams down by playing through the lines instead of relying on the kick and run that has been evident in a number of their games.
But how do they fix this? This round of competition is almost over but assuming all goes to plan and Jamaica advances to the final qualifying round, the Reggae Boyz are likely to run into teams like Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras teams that punish mediocre play and with only three teams to advance to Rio, Jamaica cannot afford to finish fourth.
This means Jamaica needs to find itself a good developmental coach, one that can address these problems and get Jamaica better prepared for the qualification campaign. That coach needs to have worked in a youth system who has the ability to develop player skills and develop them quickly. In short, Jamaica needs a certified UEFA coach, who has a passion for working with players who need to enhance their skills as well as coaches who might not be of the highest standard. The coach must also have an understanding of the players’ culture as this will make it easier to connect with the players more quickly. Breaking down communication barriers is paramount if the players are to learn as fast as possible and put Jamaica on a path to really compete if and when it advances to the final round and ultimately play better quality football when the team gets to Rio in two years’ time.