Insufficient preparation, high altitude hurt U17s in Guatemala, says Gordon
Coach Merron Gordon has blamed insufficient preparation and playing at a high altitude in Guatemala for the national Under-17 team’s early exit from the 2023 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The young Reggae Boyz were eliminated at the round of 16 stage...
Coach Merron Gordon has blamed insufficient preparation and playing at a high altitude in Guatemala for the national Under-17 team’s early exit from the 2023 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The young Reggae Boyz were eliminated at the round of 16 stage, following a 2-1 defeat to hosts Guatemala last month.
Gordon, who stated that collectively the group had a strong belief in making their third appearance following qualification in 1999 and 2011, said, this time around, preparations were different compared to those two successful qualifications.
“(We) Failed with regard to not making it to the World Cup, but I think Jamaicans need to understand how one goes about qualifying for a World Cup. Yes, we had high hopes of making it to the World Cup as we were really trying to do so but, if you look at history and how we qualified for the previous ones, the preparation this time was different,” said Gordon.
NOT ENOUGH PREPARATION
The young Reggae Boyz played a total of four games in the qualifiers, scoring nine goals while conceding eight (two per game), and coach Gordon said, if they were given enough time to properly prepare the group, the outcome might have been different.
“The teams that we competed against spent one year together. If these boys had gotten international games and exposure, trust me, I know that we would have qualified. You need to travel and play. Some of these boys were travelling outside of their country, whether the United States or Jamaica, for the first time,” Gordon said. He added that a planned camp in Brazil was cancelled.
“When you go to Brazil, you can get a lot of quality practice matches,” said Gordon.
In all four of their qualifying games, the young Reggae Boyz had the better of their opponents early in their games but seven of the eight goals conceded came in the last 13 minutes of their games. Against Cuba, the young Reggae Boyz conceded in the 78th and 89th minutes, against Guadeloupe in the 78th and 90th minutes, against Costa Rica in the 79th and 87th minutes, and against Guatemala in the 32nd and 77th minutes. This late struggle coach Gordon blamed on playing at a high altitude, which the players were not accustomed to.
“One factor that we need to put into perspective is that we played in Guatemala at 4,900 feet above sea level. We knew of this challenge going into the tournament but we didn’t want it to play on the boys’ mind. So we just tried to prepare them as best as we could. Those last 15 minutes of the games that you saw us suffering was mainly because of the altitude,” Gordon said.