By Leighton Levy July 22, 2019
The head coach of St. Kitts and Nevis, Earl Jones, said his team’s belief and determination helped them rally from a goal down to earn a 1-1 draw with Jamaica in their Group A preliminary round Olympic qualifier on Sunday night.
Nicque Daley had put the home side ahead in the 45th minute in a match that Jamaica had to win to advance from the group. However, Geovannie Lake’s 56th-minute equalizer saw St. Kitts and Nevis win the group and end Jamaica’s hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“We had a great belief and the determination to make history for our twin-island federation,” said Jones.
“Also, it’s far more than just the game itself. It’s about our youth that we believe need the recognition for the exposure, which we as a group have great confidence in competing at the highest level possible.
“And by coming to Jamaica which we as Caribbean people consider to be amongst the best, gives us the ultimate drive to work even harder.”
Tactically, he said his team was prepared for what the Donovan-Duckie-coached side was going to throw at them in the must-win encounter.
“We started out with a 4-2-3-1 formation. We anticipated that coach Duckie would be stubborn and would want to prove something to his local fans and open up and come at us,” Jones said.
“So basically, looking at the style of play by the Jamaicans, hitting that long ball to our flanks trying to break in or get cross balls in, we made a change by taking out no.10 player Tye Shade and replaced him with a no. 9 Tahir Hanley.
“We changed to a 4-4-2 diamond which we know would create a great number of chances, complemented by our players that are very good in transition from defence to attack.”
One of Jones’ standout players, Yohannes Mitchum, said Jamaica was difficult to break down early in the game.
“We couldn’t penetrate them like how we did in the second half but in the first half it happened on a one or two occasions when they relaxed,” he said saying overall team discipline earned them a favourable result.
“I believe we just had to stay disciplined on defence to not concede any more goals because we know that Jamaica would have opened up and give up opportunities to equalize.”
Like they did against Dominica, Jamaica was profligate in front of goal.
“To be honest though we got lucky, only conceding one goal, but we dug deep coming from behind to find the equaliser and see out the rest of the game,” said Ty Shade who plays for Leicester City U21 player.
In the end, it all came down to belief, sentiments echoed by team manager Jamir Claxton.
“We believe in our methods, our players, and our staff and, most importantly, our desire to achieve the objective,” he said.