Somehow I don't think Tappa is listening to me when I suggest starting lineups to him........lol. Nevertheless, I shall persevere.
WHO I WOULD START AGAINST COSTA RICA
Ricketts - Goalkeeper
Mariappa - Centre Half
Taylor - Centre Half
Doyley - Right Back
Lovel Palmer - Left Back (I insist Lovel would do better defensively than Demar)
Elliott - Central Midfield
McAnuff - Left Link
McCleary - Right Link
Austin - Attacking Link
Ryan Johnson - Forward
Beckford - Forward
My strategy would be simple here, work with what is working for you. Outside of the 4-1 victory over Antigua & Barbuda, the last four goals the Reggae Boyz have scored in WCQ have been from dead balls; a corner, two free kicks and a penalty. This dates back to our 2-1 victory over the USA last year.
Ryan Johnson holds up the ball pretty well with his back to goal and Beckford (not sure how badly is his hand injury) has the height to trouble in the air. They aren't blessed with blinding speed but for the purpose of getting fouls close to the 18 yard box and corners in our favour they would be ideal.
We have to now play to the strength of where our goals have the proclivity to come from; no sense in reinventing the wheel right now. We must be getting people to foul us close to their 18 yard box, and scampering to concede corners. This is in fact a strategy.
Who remembers the term 'hack-a-shaq'? It was a defensive strategy to contain Shaquille Oneil in the paint because he couldn't shoot free throws; and it worked pretty well for the Bulls when Jordan was playing. Everyone took turns fouling Shaq once he received the basketball in the paint so no one person would rack up too many personal fouls. This was a strategy.
We are not creating sufficient chances in open play so something has to give. The way the teams in this final round are playing and our reluctance to practice ball possession, making full use of set plays may be our best shot of reaching Rio 2014. This is not exhibition football so it may look ugly; frankly I don't care, I need Jamaica in Rio 2014.
Elliott and Beckford must be the targets of all corners we get....full stop. Beckford must be the target of free kicks coming from the flanks or any crosses eked out by McCleary. It doesn't really matter if Costa Rica sees what we are trying to do. If we do it properly they can't stop it.
McAnuff, McCleary and Austin are very good strikers of the ball; they answer the free kick questions just outside the 18 yard box.
If we are able to keep possession of the ball the opponent invariably will foul; especially Costa Rica who are at the bottom of the table and are desperate for a win. They are going to want that football so they are going to be overly aggressive and that can be to our advantage. Let them foul us in their defensive third as much as possible. However, our passing game needs to be spot on or this may backfire. If our passing goes awry too often people will be out of position and scampering to get back because I can guarantee Costa Rica will be wasting no time on their counter attacks.
Hit the ball to Johnson or Beckford and have Austin, McCleary or McAnuff support that pass. Johnson or Beckford must take on the defender, if not, lay off to the midfielders who in turn go at the defense with dribbles. One of two things will happen; either Costa Rica foul or the Reggae Boyz get behind their defense for a shot at goal.
Second half there is Theo and Teddy chomping at the bit for their share. And we would also have Demar as an option....hmmmmm. We are now well aware of how Theo and Teddy can impact a game when they come on as substitutes.
I honestly am not harboring the thought of a draw in Costa Rica; that is really too risky. We need to win there. Costa Rica is down so keep them down, we are not the Salvation Army.
Nosworthy is out, so be it. If we put forward the notion that we can't do without him that will filter into the team and they may actually believe it. I bind that thought in the name of Jesus. We have suitable options to replace Nosworthy, that is the notion I am putting forward.
Tappa work wid what a work wid you......and oh yeah.....give back Lovel Palmer a call.