Whitmore wants to take Gold Cup form into World Cup Qualifiers

By concacaf.com July 24, 2020

The 2015 Gold Cup was the start of a remarkable run of success for Jamaica in the Gold Cup. Two years later in 2017 under the guidance of Head Coach Theodore Whitmore, Jamaica returned to the Final. Then in last summer’s Gold Cup, Whitmore’s side was once again in the title mix in reaching the semifinals, marking three straight Gold Cup semifinal appearances, becoming the only Caribbean nation to accomplish that feat.

With all those Gold Cup achievements under their belts, Whitmore’s objective is now to translate those Gold Cup results into success during Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022.

“It says a lot about this group of players. This is a special group of players and it is nice to have so much Gold Cup success, but now our goal is to take that into World Cup Qualifying. Our ultimate objective is to reach the World Cup, so the way we have performed in the Gold Cup and Nations League, we have to bring that same mentality to World Cup Qualifying,” said Whitmore in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.

Although Jamaica’s 2017 Gold Cup ended with a narrow 2-1 defeat to the United States in the Final, Whitmore feels like there were many positives to be taken.

“It was a great experience. Our first goal was to get out of the group and we knew that once we got out of the group that we could do well. It was a great effort from the team to reach the Final. Unfortunately, we lost the Final, but overall, I am very happy with how the players played,” said Whitmore.

That run to the 2017 Final included a first ever Gold Cup win over Mexico when Kemar Lawrence’s late free kick made the difference in a 1-0 win.

“We knew with Mexico that the longer you keep them contained, your chances will come. We did a good job of limiting their attack. I think they only had a couple chances early. Defensively we were very good and stayed compact and organized. We were then able to take advantage of our scoring opportunities. On free kicks, we have two players who usually take them and Kemar had no doubts that he would take that. After the game we felt so much elation for the victory because the players worked so hard,” said Whitmore.

Jamaica followed up their 2019 Gold Cup semifinal finish with a strong display in the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League in which the Reggae Boyz topped their group in League B with a 5W-1D-0L record. As a former Caribbean footballer and current coach, Whitmore is pleased to see so many different island nations reaping the rewards of Concacaf’s Nations League initiative.

“I think it is good for the whole Caribbean because the most important thing for players to raise their level is to have more games. Now, all of the Caribbean teams can make plans because they know they have games to play. It is very important for a player to have regular competition in order to improve and the Nations League has helped with that,” said Whitmore.

New initiatives from Concacaf are also being felt at the club level with the recent introduction of the Scotiabank Concacaf League in 2017, which has included the likes of Jamaicans clubs Portmore United, Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens. Since its inception, young Jamaican players have starred in the tournament and used its platform to earn moves to bigger clubs in the area and call-ups to Whitmore’s side.

“Before teams like Waterhouse, Portmore United, Harbor View, they would only play in the Red Stripe Premier League here in Jamaica. Now they can play in a Concacaf tournament, and that is important because you see their players get tested. That helps with the development of players. Players like Maalique Foster, Javon East, you see them perform in Concacaf League and they can move to bigger clubs,” said Whitmore.

It has been 14 years since Whitmore, an attacking midfielder, hung up his boots as a player following a sparkling 22-year career in which he excelled for both club and country. It also coincided with a time when some of the best midfielders in Concacaf history were in their prime.

“I played against some very tough midfielders. Rafa Marquez of Mexico is one who was very tough, Amado Guevara from Honduras. There were so many good players in midfield in Concacaf during that time, so I knew I always had a battle on my hands,” said Whitmore.

When he reflects on his career in a Jamaica shirt, there are a couple victories that stand out, but mostly his two-goal performance in Jamaica’s only FIFA World Cup victory, a 2-1 final over Japan at France 1998.

“In 1997 when we defeated Mexico to qualify for the World Cup, that was such a special moment because it was the first time that Jamaica qualified for the World Cup. I would also say when we beat Japan 2-1 in the World Cup and I scored the two goals.

“Of the two goals I scored, I like the first one the best. I remember the night before I was talking with Ricardo Gardner and Ian Goodison and we told each other that we had to win our last game, that we couldn’t leave the World Cup without a win. They told me that I needed to be the one to score, since I had scored the first goal in qualifying against Suriname, so they said I should be the one to begin and close our journey. You can see on the video that I score the first goal and Ricardo and Ian come celebrate with me. The second goal was also a feeling of great joy,” concluded Whitmore.

Related items

  • Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 Saint-Etienne: Icardi heads 95th-minute winner in frenetic five-goal finale Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 Saint-Etienne: Icardi heads 95th-minute winner in frenetic five-goal finale

    Returning substitute Mauro Icardi gave Paris Saint-Germain a remarkable 3-2 win at home to Saint-Etienne on Sunday to significantly boost the champions' title hopes.

    A perplexing encounter was goalless until the 77th minute when Denis Bouanga had Saint-Etienne in front and PSG, beaten in their previous three home Ligue 1 games, facing defeat again.

    Kylian Mbappe levelled just 84 seconds later, though, and then won and converted a penalty to seemingly win the match and close to within a point of leaders Lille, held by Montpellier on Friday.

    Yet that was far from the end of the drama, with an awful error from stand-in goalkeeper Sergio Rico gifting Romain Hamouma a 92nd-minute equaliser.

    Saint-Etienne had just three more minutes to see out to protect a point but allowed Icardi, back after a month out with a thigh strain, to reach Angel Di Maria's cross and nod in to spark jubilant celebrations.

  • A-League: Adelaide Utd miss chance to go top despite comeback, Jets' winless run continues A-League: Adelaide Utd miss chance to go top despite comeback, Jets' winless run continues

    Adelaide United missed the chance to go top of the A-League but at least avoided suffering defeat as they fought from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Sydney on Sunday.

    It looked as though Adelaide were on their way to a second loss in four games, as Bobo rounded off a lovely move to open the scoring in the 19th minute, before doubling his tally early in the second half with a simple finish into an empty net after Kosta Barbarouses wasted a one-on-one situation.

    But United pulled one back 15 minutes from time, Jordan Elsey turning in a left-wing cross, and Tomi Juric's fierce strike a few moments later restored parity.

    Adelaide might have gone on to seal the win and subsequently leap above Melbourne City, who went top on Saturday with a remarkable 7-0 derby win over Melbourne Victory, but Rhyan Grant brought Craig Goodwin down as the last man to earn a straight red deep into stoppage time.

    Just outside Sydney, Macarthur were held to a 2-2 draw by the Newcastle Jets, whose club-record winless streak was extended to eight games.

    But just as they did last week against Perth Glory, the Jets showed character to fight back from behind, with Charles M'Mombwa and Loic Puyo putting Macarthur 2-1 up after Roy O'Donovan's penalty had initially put the visitors in front.

    Steven Ugarkovic equalised just before the hour mark with a gorgeous 20-yard effort and that ultimately salvaged a point.

    The day's late game was similarly entertaining and did yield a winner as Wellington Phoenix beat Glory 3-1, with all goals coming in the second half.

    Ben Waine caught Glory goalkeeper Luke Reddy out of his net for the first, only for Joel Chianese to equalise two minutes later with a stunning effort, picking out the top-left corner after slaloming between a couple of defenders.

    But Louis Fenton tapped in to make it 2-1 with 66 on the clock and Jaushua Sotirio - released by the lively Ulises Davila - showed great composure to seal the win and boost the Phoenix's outside chances of reaching the Finals.

  • Milan 2-1 Genoa: Own goal keeps Rossoneri in the hunt Milan 2-1 Genoa: Own goal keeps Rossoneri in the hunt

    Milan kept some pressure on Serie A leaders Inter as they cut the gap at the top of the table to eight points with an unconvincing 2-1 win over Genoa.

    Ante Rebic's superb 13th-minute opener appeared to put Milan on course for a routine win, but they made heavy weather of things thereafter.

    Former Milan loanee Mattia Destro levelled before half-time and the Rossoneri required an own goal from Gianluca Scamacca to claim maximum points.

    Inter can stretch their lead at the top back to 11 points by beating Napoli later on Sunday, but Milan's slim hopes are still alive, while this result is another step towards making sure of Champions League qualification.

    Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin had not been tested in the opening 12 minutes but he was left with no chance when Rebic unleashed a stunning volley on the turn to find the bottom-right corner in style after the visitors failed to clear having initially blocked Theo Hernandez's effort from a free-kick.

    But Milan were unable to build on their lead and saw it eradicated by an excellent header from Destro eight minutes before half-time as he lost his marker to meet Miha Zajc's corner.

    Rebic spurned a golden chance to restore Milan's advantage but could only blaze over from point-blank range after excellent work from Pierre Kalulu.

    Marko Pjaca threatened to complete the turnaround for Genoa as he came off the bench and shot narrowly wide and Simon Kjaer should have done better with a header at the other end.

    However, Milan were given a helping hand by Scamacca, who inadvertently diverted Hakan Calhanoglu's corner into his own net in the 68th minute.

    They required late defensive heroics from Kjaer and Fiyako Tomori to stay in front as they each produced goal-line clearances to deny Andrea Masiello and Valon Behrami and keep Milan hanging on Inter's coattails.

     

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.