Caribbean Cup, Gold Cup the focus, reminds Whitmore

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CHATTANOOGA, United States (CMC) – Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore says preparation for Friday’s international friendly against United States was not what he had hoped but says the ultimate goal is the side’s preparation for their important outings in the Caribbean Cup finals and CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Jamaica are using the friendly at Finley Stadium here and another engagement against Honduras in Houston on February 16, as warm-up for the two major upcoming tournaments, and Whitmore said these outings were priority.

“If you are only talking about the US game, then I am not comfortable [with overall preparation], but we are looking at the bigger picture and that is the CFU tournament and the Gold Cup,” Whitmore told the Observer newspaper.

“But, as I have said before, the players are improving and I am very pleased with the level of commitment they have been showing over the past couple of weeks.”

Six-time Caribbean Cup champions Jamaica will clash in the finals with French Guiana, Curacao and hosts Martinique in the June 22-25 tournament.

All four teams will then head to the United States for the July 7-26 Gold Cup which will be played at 14 venues across 13 cities.

Jamaica were outstanding in the 2014 tournament, reaching the final for the first time before losing to Mexico.

The 20-man squad for Friday’s contest is a healthy blend of local and foreign-based players, with 11 players from the domestic league involved, and Whitmore said he was expected to a tough encounter.

“I think we have a balanced squad here as we always try to select the team with balance in mind. Basically, we will be looking at our tactical set-up as you know that the US have been in training long, so we have to know how to press them in the areas of the field we want to press them,” Whitmore explained.

“The players in the USA team will want to impress their coach (Bruce) Arena as they want to be in the final squad for the World Cup qualification games, so everybody will want to impress. We, on the other hand, have to impress as well, so it’s going to be a tough and intriguing game.”

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