The Jamaican government is piggy-backing on the expansion of the Panama Canal to jump start its economy. At the National Stadium on Friday night, the Jamaica football team were hoping to derail Panama and strengthen their position to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil. The game ended up in a 1-1 tie bolstering Panama’s efforts and placing Jamaica behind the eighth ball.
Jamaica adopted the appropriate tactics when they played Mexico in the high altitude Aztec Stadium. They packed the middle and kept men behind the ball. Jamaica waited for opportune breakaways and had enough clear chances to win the game. But everyone was elated with the draw and expectations for the match-up against Panama.
The tactics against Panama at home were ill-conceived. Whitmore started with two forwards, Luton and Beckford and four in mid-field with McCleary and MacAnuff on the wings and Austin and Elliott in the middle.
From the kick-off, it was evident that Panama was dominating mid-field. And quite frequently, Luton, MacAnuff and Demar Phillips were on the left flank seemingly marking each other. McCleary and MacAnuff should have been in the middle trying to take control of the game. Whitmore after 20 minutes failed to make an adjustment.
Jamaica forged ahead with a corner kick by Phillips and a fantastic header by Marvin Elliott. Even though Jamaica took the lead, Whitmore’s aggregation was not able to put two passes together. The ball kept breaking down and rather than playing within the confines of the pitch, there were throw-ins after throw- ins.
Panama was just as horrible. They also couldn’t keep the ball on the field. Yet Panama playing away, played with greater intensity and looked more at home than the Reggae Boyz.
Panama was even more dominant in the second half and the relentless pressure paid off with a shot by the left back outside of the box which Ricketts, Jamaica’s goalkeeper picked up late.
On Tuesday, Jamaica treks to Costa Rica. A loss will make it nigh impossible to qualify for the World Cup 2014. Whitmore does not seem to know his players and also failed to make the necessary adjustments during the ninety minutes of the contest.
This Tuesday everything is on the line. Failure to beat Costa Rica in their own backyard will be a bitter pill for Jamaica to swallow. Hopefully, the team will be able to establish an esprit d’corps and bring out the talents of MacAnuff, McCleary and the surrounding cast to ensure a victory.