Saturday, 23 March 2013

Panama 1 Jamaica 1 - Disappointed is an Understatement

This is a long one...some venting necessary.

I doubt I will be able to describe how disappointed I feel in losing two points to Panama. The empirical evidence was there, but I chose to ignore it because of how strong I think my Jamaica team is. I am totally distraught at the outcome of this match. Panama remains unbeaten in FIFA WCQ against Jamaica.

The referee's poor handling of the game is a side show as far as I am concerned. The legend who is my father 'Howard Juicy Bell' has told me time and time again 'Do not leave anything to be decided by umpires or referees, take the game away from them and do what you have to do'. Probably I should send this message to the players.

One thing was clearly clearly evident tonight and that was the tactical superiority of J. Dely Valdes over Tappa Whitmore. This was a lesson in playing to your strength and technical proficiency. We were not overalled by Panama; more like a little embarassed by them. At one point in time I forgot who was the home team.

The #10 for Panama (Barahona I think) was the linchpin once he came on the pitch. Panama were playing very well, but him 'tun up the ting'. This man did not make a bad pass or lose possession of the ball once and he is very skilfull. Everything ran through him once he came on; whether they were coming out of defence or needed an outlet when they couldn't attack. And all attacks seem to come through him. This guy is very dangerous. Shades of Carlos Valderama from Columbia; same built and bleached hair although not as long.

Teddy Johnson and Theo Robinson were the game changers for the Jamaica team. The complexion of the game changed as Theo came on. His first touch was controlling and shooting to goal. Teddy's first contribution was a marauding run at the Panamanians that should have given us a freekick just outside the 18 yard box; but that referee....ah bwoy. They continually ran at the Panamanian defense and it almost bore fruit as a shot went inches outside the upright in the dying moments of the game.

The quality of the playing surface or lack thereof seemed only to affect the Jamaican team. Panama's passes were crisp and beautiful; their wall passes were from the textbook, and their out and out passing rarely went awry. They used this to get to our defensive third almost at will. This game further emphasizes the importance of the defensive maturity of Nosworthy, Mariappa, Taylor and Elliott in this team.

Panama pressed high and deliberate from the first whistle and it seems that it got us out of our rhythm. The  Reggae Boyz seemed quite sure that Panama were coming to play defensive. However, there is a remedy for Panama's high press game-which is done for the purpose of winning the ball in the opposing team defensive third and being able to attack quickly in numbers-; it is called an offside trap. The Reggae Boyz backline should have pushed forward more and have the midfield pressure the Panamanian ball handlers to make a pass; I can't remember Panama being blown for offside (I may be wrong but I can't recall).

Panama were adamant at keeping possession of the ball (I went over the importance of this on many blogs before). Apparently the 5-1 demolition Panama got from Spain taught them the importance of ball possession. And how come Panama get to play Spain as late as November 2012 and the highest ranked team we could play last year was USA? Well that I will tackle another time.

McCleary was dreadfully underutilized in this Panama game, that was not good at all. This player is quick...very quick, and can dribble. Theo Robinson is quick....very quick. Why aren't we playing to the strength of this advantage. And Teddy Johnson is probably even quicker than these players. Beautifully weighted passes to quick forwards make life miserable for defenders. I don't want to see unnecessary diagonal wing passes trying to stretch out defenses (if we are not counter-attacking). If we are building an attack and want to catch teams by surprise, give these guys foot races with defenders at the end of forward passes, I guarantee they won't lose those races. 

Why isn't Jobi McAnuff being used as a creative midfielder?

Reggae Boyz this is the final round of FIFA WCQ's and no team is going to roll over and die so you can go through. Please take this into consideration for the remainder of games.

Okay now for the good stuff. Advice I have for Tappa Whitmore:

  • If you are going to keep Demar Phillips in the starting lineup-at leftback-at least sit him down and let him watch tapes of Paulo Maldini (legendary Italian and AC Milan leftback). He needs to form some chemistry between himself, Mariappa and McAnuff on that side of the field. I am tired of Demar's defensive shortcomings. 
  • Do not replace an injured vital central defender with a converted midfielder which in turn changes the chemistry of the backline. You brought other defenders from England, use them. (Omar Daley was the change for the injured defender Nosworthy).
  • Quit having so much faith in Luton Shelton.
  • Learn how to use Jermaine 'Teddy' Johnson. This is one of our most gifted players, find a way to extract his true potential pleeeeeeeease.....before its too late. 
  • Call Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho or Tito Vilanova and get some tips on how to use the players you need-or have-to carry out your game plan and strategy.
  • If you are doing something and its working, do it until it doesn't work. If you are doing something and its not working, do something else. The Panama coach mastered this.
  • I have faith in you Tappa, do what you have to do to keep it. Make the logical decisions that need to be made and stop pussyfooting around. Bringing on Omar Daley was illogical, isn't Doyley a defender? Teddy Johnson for Jobi McAnuff was illogical, Luton Shelton should have come off. Theo Robinson for Jermaine Beckford was fine. Do not spoil your National coaching record.
I have some advice for the Honduran referee Hector Francisco Rodriguez Hernandez:
  • Go and find something else to do other than being a referee. If you want to continue being one I suggest you come back to Jamaica and have Peter Prendergast or Winston Delahaye assist you in learning the rudiments of what is needed from a referee.
In his last 7 games (including tonight) Hec-tor has issued a whopping 43 yellow cards and 3 red cards; 3 of the 43 were second yellows that resulted in red cards in all fairness to him. He issued 6 or more yellow cards in 4 of those 7 games; in one game he issued 9. I don't think I have to go any further with this. I hope Jamaica never has to face this referee again. The officiating was dreadful to say the least.

The high points for the Reggae Boyz:

  • We did not lose
  • Donovan Ricketts.........again
  • The effectiveness of Marvin Elliott (he was also the goalscorer)
  • Purposeful play from Theo Robinson and Teddy Johnson
  • The defense line......again

Our next scheduled game will be against Costa Rica March 26. Please Tappa fix what needs to be fixed before we go there. My support has not waned.

The Reggae Boyz celebrate Marvin Elliott\'s 23rd minute goal - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
Photo by Ricardo Makyn

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© 2013 Antonio Bell. All rights reserved

All the commentary posted in this publication are my personal view(s) and do not reflect the view(s) of any Association, Federation or Governing Body.