Jamaica expects tricky Caribbean Cup test from Guyana

Jamaica (pictured) trains ahead of its Caribbean Cup match at Guyana that's scheduled for October 11, 2016 in Leonora.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore admits his team’s third-round opener at Guyana in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup on Tuesday will be difficult to navigate.

The defending champion Reggae Boyz were supposed to launch their campaign on October 5 against visiting Suriname, but Hurricane Matthew forced postponement of that encounter and severely limited training opportunities.

Whitmore was put in charge of Jamaica’s campaign late last month, while the Jamaica Football Federation addresses matters surrounding the status of head coach Winfried Schafer. He had three previous stints in the post, winning the 2010 Caribbean Cup.

“It is a difficult period for the players and for Jamaica because we have missed out on reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup and a number of the players in this squad was in the squad during qualifiers and you can see some players are in a despondent mood,” said the 44-year-old, who is the only person to win the Caribbean Cup as a player and coach. “However, we have to move on in football. Time flies and football brings about new opportunities and with two wins in the Caribbean Cup we go to the Gold Cup, so our focus has shifted."

Under Whitmore’s leadership, Jamaica defeated Guyana, 1-0, in their last meeting on May 18, 2012, in a friendly in Montego Bay. He knows that duplicating that result will not be easy, especially since the game is on the road at the National Track and Field Facility in Leonora.

“It is a complex test for us as Guyana are no slouches in the region,” Whitmore stressed. “I think we have the squad capable to get the three points we need, however, Guyana did put up a fight against Suriname, so we have to be watchful over their approach.

“They are at home as well so we must not make the occasion get the better of us. We worked on set pieces, ball retention and finishing, so I feel we are ready for the test. We are looking forward for a competitive and a good game.”

Jamaica has captured four of the last six Caribbean Cup crowns.