Sat | Apr 13, 2024

Boyz must win at ‘The Azteca’

Hallgrimsson plans to topple regional giants in Concacaf Nations’ League A clash

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2023 | 1:17 AMLivingston Scott - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Gladstone Taylor/Multimedia Photo Editor
Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson (fifth right) watches from the touch line during their recent practice match against Trinidad and Tobago at the National Stadium. Jamaica’s senior men’s football team f
Gladstone Taylor/Multimedia Photo Editor Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson (fifth right) watches from the touch line during their recent practice match against Trinidad and Tobago at the National Stadium. Jamaica’s senior men’s football team faces Mexico in a Concacaf Nations League do-or-die fixture this evening at The Azteca stdium in Mexico City.

JAMAICA’S SENIOR men’s football team face a must-win situation against Mexico to advance in League A of the Concacaf Nations League, when the teams battle in a Group A fixture inside The Azteca stadium, in Mexico City this evening at 7.

Mexico lead the three-team group on seven points, followed by Jamaica on five, and Suriname with one. Only the winners of the four League A groups will advance to the final four.

Also, the Jamaicans have an inferior goal difference (+2) to Mexico (+5) as in previous matches, they drew 1-1 with both Mexico and Suriname, before defeating Suriname 3-1 in the return fixture. Mexico defeated Suriname in both their matches, winning the first contest 3-0 and the latest 2-0 on Thursday.

Mexico had a difficult time putting away cellar-dwellers Suriname in their match at the Flora Stadium in Suriname just days ago. The Surinamese got as many chances as the group leaders in the match, but the Mexicans were more efficient in front of goal.

However, Reggae Boyz head coach, Heimir Hallgrimsson, believes Jamaica must not read too much into Mexico’s recent match but instead bring their ‘A’ game as he expects the Central Americans to come full force by starting their strongest team.

“We cannot take a lot from that (Suriname game), they were playing a totally different team. They rested a lot of their key players which we expect will be playing against us. So tactically there’s not much we could take from that match,” the Jamaica head coach said.

However, he insists that the Reggae Boyz are going to Mexico with a plan, and remains optimistic that they can succeed.

“We have a plan we think we can hurt them. Whether the plan works or not, we’ll just have to see. But we go with the plan in mind how we will play them,” Hallgrimsson remarked.

“Hopefully we can put in a good performance, and then the side effects will be one point or three points,” he said.

In their most recent match, the largely local-based Jamaica team lost once and drew once with Trinidad and Tobago. Now many of the locals have been replaced by seasoned overseas professionals including Leon Bailey, Shamar Nicholson, Bobby Reid, Ravel Morrison, Daniel Johnson and Ethan Pinnock. However, the Boyz will be missing their trusted goalkeeper and captain, Andre Blake, who is injured.

Mexico, on the other hand, will look to counter through Feynoord striker Santiago Giminez, PSV Eindhoven’s midfielder Erick Gutierrez and defender Johan Vasques of Serie A club Cremonese.

FIT AND READY

The Reggae Boyz had been in camp in Montego Bay since Monday. Ahead of their departure for Mexico on Friday, Hallgrimsson said that the players are all fit and raring to go.

He also promised a much better display than the Boyz’s showing in recent friendlies against Trinidad and Tobago, when the team lost the first match 0-1 in Montego Bay, then drew the other game 1-1 at the National Stadium in Kingston.

“We will see a different approach to that game. The one against Trinidad was more to see the players, their abilities, and how they work in our system and working environment. So this time we would like to be more tactical, more clinical,” Hallgrimsson said. “We have been practising for Mexico and that is a totally different game. Hopefully, you will see a more structured team.

“We have 23 players eager to play. The good thing is that we didn’t play a game in between, so we don’t need to rest,” he said. “We are just preparing for Mexico and we have given players the time to recover from the (club) matches they just played. So we are in a good position fitness wise, hopefully tactical wise (as well).”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com