Recently manager of the Jamaica Men’s National Football Team, Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore, gave some insight on the inner workings of the camp in the aftermath of a poor start to Jamaica’s World Cup qualifiers. There were few hot takes including mentioning that the players are all committed and that he’s secure in his job, but one particularly interesting point was in response to a question about the excess use of long balls over the top. Tappa replied that this wasn’t exactly the plan. So the question arises then: what is the plan, and is it working?
Whitmore seems to favour a classic 4-4-2 or when he’s feeling adventurous, a 4-2-3-1. With the players available, are either of the two formations really the best setup with the players at our disposal? I’m not convinced.
I previously thought a 3-4-3 formation would work for Jamaica but I’ve had a rethink and I’m now more in favour of a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 (depending on the needs of the specific game) and It has nothing to do with the fact that Jamaica often lined up in a 5-3-2 under René Simões during the 98’ campaign.
Nostalgia aside, I suggest that particular shape for three very good reasons: 1) we have more than just two quality centre backs, at least four by my count; Lowe, Liam Moore, Adrian Mariappa and Ethan Pinnock. That’s a lot of quality and composure not to mention imposing and dominant aerial figures. 2) Lawrence. That’s it. Kemar Lawrence is probably the second best left back in CONCACAF and with the ability to play both sides of the game effectively, especially in whipping in those dangerous crosses from the left, he should be given more responsibility to get forward and do just that because of number 3. 3) A quality strike force – Michail Antonio, Shamar Nicholson, Corey Burke, Kemar Roofe, Andre Gray and Romario Williams are all more than capable of leading the line for Jamaica by themselves or as a duo. The question becomes which two do you use, but frankly you can’t really get it wrong, because all of those guys are potent on their day.
I, like many other persons, was deeply disappointed by Antonio’s game against Panama, but the truth is, he is still our best striker. I think a system like this would give him more service and he’d be more involved in the game, not to mention the service coming from advanced wingbacks swinging in crosses. As for his partner, I think Andre Gray deserves another go in the team, and he should provide Shamar Nicholson with competition for the final striker berth.
As we saw in Mexico City, going in fully defensive against the top teams is not a sustainable tactic. And sometimes pressing the opposition and trying to play to your own strengths is the best way to approach the upcoming games like the ones coming up against the USA, Canada and Honduras. As it stands, we have a proper keeper and top notch defenders, and our attack has fearsome options, the missing link that continues to plague us, is a specialist number 10 playing in the ‘hole’.
Anything is better than the single point we got in September; Jamaica needs to take the game to our opponents to maximize points and get ‘Road to Qatar’ back on track.