'Boyz support Whitmore 100%' - Lowe says calls to sack coach expected, but players always ready to work for him

By Sports Desk September 11, 2021

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaica Reggae Boyz defender, Damion Lowe, believes it is normal to hear calls to fire coaches after poor results, he insists, however, the team is 100 percent behind Theodore Whitmore, despite a rocky start to the World Cup qualifiers.

After three matches, the national team finds itself at the bottom of the eight-team final round group, with just one point to show.  A 2-1 loss to Mexico was followed by a damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama before the team finally got on the board with a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica.

The Panama result had proven particularly disturbing for some fans and pundits, with the Whitmore-led coaching unit making eight changes to a team that lost 2-1 away to Mexico.  With pandemic restrictions leaving several overseas-based players unavailable for some games in the qualifiers, it is, however, a delicate balance.

“To be honest, if you look at football, world football, when a coach gets a series of bad results everyone says, ‘get rid of the coach’ it’s normal,” Lowe told SportsMax.TVs InCaseYouMissedIT.

“But, if you look at Tappa’s record, if it’s not the best, it’s one of the best records,” he added.

Whitmore a former national player, who was crucial to the team’s historic progression to the 1998 World Cup, first took charge of the unit as an interim manager in 2007, became an assistant in 2008, before officially taking the reins from 2009-2013.  He returned for a second stint as head coach in 2016.

“I remember when Tappa returned for his third stint in 2016, nobody wanted us, nobody wanted the national team.  For me, Tappa has my 100 percent support, and these players support Tappa 100 percent.  They believe in him; they’ll work for him.  A coach wants players that will work for him and if you have a team and the players are not willing to work for you, then it doesn’t make sense.”

The national team will be back in action next month when the qualifiers resume away to the United States.

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    Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz’s qualification to France 2019 signified in part an unprecedented growth and development leap for the Caribbean.

    Importantly, too, the fairytale success story was of monumental historical proportion, as the island became the first from the region to be catapulted into the stratosphere of the global game and its greatest stage, the World Cup.

    On October 17, 2018, at the Concacaf Women’s Championship inside Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, Jamaica achieved the unthinkable.

    In the third-place match, the Girlz defeated Panama in an epic match, which ended 2-2 after regulation and extra time. And the two, with the scent of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France in scope, had to be separated by the dreaded penalties. As it turned out, Jamaica triumphed 4-2, and the rest, as they say, is history.

    On that magical journey, was assistant coach Andrew Price and he recalled the momentous occasion as if it happened yesterday.

    “The emotions were like a roller-coaster on the bench in that final qualifying game [against Panama]. We took the lead on two occasions and lost it twice. We deliberately saved our changes late in the game to ensure that we would have been prepared for extra time.

    “But the masterstroke was when we decided to replace goalkeeper Sydney Schneider with Nicole McClure. We had practised penalties the day before and Nicole was amazing in goal, so when we saw the clock winding down, it was important that we put her on the pitch before time expired,” said Price.

    As part of a technical team led by Head Coach Hue Menzies, the assistant coach revelled in the tactical astuteness of the coaches, for he thought the off-the-field decisions had a positive impact on the outcome of the match.

    “In practising the penalty kicks, we made the players make the long walk from half-line to the penalty box to take each kick, so for that match day the players would be prepared for the scenario, and everything worked to perfection. As you know, Nicole saved two penalties and we scored all our penalties,” Price re-collected.       

    The experienced tactician said there was self-belief in the camp that the World Cup dream was reachable as the team went through the layers of qualification.

    “The confidence and self-belief came after the first round of the Caribbean World Cup Qualifying held in Haiti. It was a difficult tournament in terms of the conditions and environment that the young ladies had to face.

    “The real test was the final game of the round, between ourselves and the host Haiti, as we battled for the one qualifying spot. We went into the game on similar points, but we had a superior goal difference of two goals. All we needed was to draw to advance. In front of a partisan and sometimes hostile crowd of 15,000 Haitian supporters, we trailed 2-0 in the first half.

    “But we showed our real strength by pulling a goal back before halftime. During the halftime talk, we told the Girlz to relax and play their normal game. They went out, and in a stirring performance, silenced the crowd with the equalizing goal. For the remainder of the match, we fought tooth and nail to ensure we advanced to the next round,” Price reminisced.

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    “With each passing round of the qualification, the confidence of the Girlz grew. They believed they were on a mission to accomplish something great. They grew into a closely-knit family -- all for one and one for all. They were willing to be patient and trust the process, and they did so one game at a time. They took obstacles as inspiration to work that much harder,” said Price.

    He said when the final whistle went in the decisive match against Panama, there was a feeling of euphoria that swept through the team and all the support staff.

    “We were just overcome with joy. The immediate reaction was to scream, ‘We did it’. We were so elated. We jumped and hugged each other. Then our next reaction was to get on the pitch and celebrate with the Girlz. The moment was surreal. It was as if time stopped for the moment,” Price said.

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    “Most definitely it was a triumph for the entire Caribbean. No different from when Haiti qualified for their first Men's World Cup in 1974. It inspired nations like Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago that it could be done. Similarly, our historic qualification will inspire other Caribbean countries. The gap is closing between the world powers in football and the others, as a global village has made the catching up achievable,” he reasoned.

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    In France, the Girlz lost all their Group C matches, but even in defeat against significantly stronger opponents, the learning experience was priceless.

    “From the draw, we were quite aware we were in the ‘Group of Death’, with top-ranked teams such as Brazil, Australia and Italy. It was always going to be difficult against these teams. But we made up our minds that we were going to be competitive and give a good account of ourselves. The experience we gained was all a part of the learning curve. It is the experience you can only get by playing against the best,” Price noted.

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    Sane squandered a couple of good opportunities to get in on the act, including a header over the bar from close range, while a disallowed Lucas Alario goal for offside was the closest Leverkusen went to further reducing the deficit.

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    Bayern Munich became the third-fastest side in Bundesliga history to score five goals in an away match as they raced into a 5-0 lead against Bayer Leverkusen inside 37 minutes.

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    After going back-to-back league games without scoring for the first time in two years, Robert Lewandowski flicked Bayern into the lead inside three minutes in Sunday's match.

    Lewandowski scored a second on the half-hour mark and Thomas Muller was next on the scoresheet four minutes later.

    Serge Gnabry added a quickfire brace of his own, the Germany international dinking in Bayern's fourth of the contest before slotting in number five two minutes later.

    Only twice before in Bundesliga history has an away side scored five goals in a quicker time from kick-off – Borussia Dortmund against Schalke (23 minutes) and Karlsruhe versus Frankfurt (30 minutes), both in 1964.

    There have been 10 occasions when teams have scored five or more goals in the first half of a Bundesliga game this century, with Bayern responsible for six of those 45-minute thrashings, including when they put five past Dortmund before the break in March 2018 on the way to a 6-0 win.

    Leverkusen are no strangers to one-sided first halves, meanwhile, as they are the only team to have scored six goals in the opening 45 minutes of a match in the division since the turn of the millennium, doing so in their 6-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in 2018-19.

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