Thursday, 19 January 2023 13:33

Reggae Boyz coach Halgrimsson hunting historic win in Mexico

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REGGAE BOYZ coach Heimir Hallgrimsson believes he knows what it takes to get good results for developing football countries like Jamaica and that the teams will be ready for his first competitive assignment, a Nation League game against regional powerhouse Mexico on March 26.

The Icelandic coach said the two-day training camp with locally based players at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, which ended yesterday, was for introducing his system and tactics to players.

Although he insists that it will take at least a month before he is able to make a full evaluation of the players at his disposal, he gave the assurance that they would be ready for Mexico, and he is even eyeing a historic first win in the Central American country.

“I have my own ideas how a nation like Jamaica can get good results on that (international) stage. At the World Cup, the top four teams were teams who had 11 players who can go both ways (attack and defence). Croatia and Morocco were really solid defensively. So if you want to win something, the first thing is a really solid defence, and from that foundation, you build your attacking game,” he explained.

However, he promised that the team would not be ultra defensive as he would look to add that bit of flair Jamaicans like to see in their team.

“Jamaicans like to see flair and players take on opponents. So we will build our identity on the culture of Jamaican football. We would like to do what the fans would like to see, but for sure, we will be tactically, defensively solid. That is the first step and my priority in starting to work with the national team,” he declared.

Hallgrimsson thought the Mexicans were superb at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, and Jamaica has never won in Mexico, and although the new coach anticipates a difficult task, he will go there with the intent to create history.

“We need to change a lot of small things here and there, and we need to start that process now. We want to be clear on what we want. To build the chemistry, everybody must know what we want and what to expect of every player no matter where they are born. I will do a lot to improve the team. Hopefully, the players will be that enthusiastic because the next couple of years for the Jamaica national team is really exciting, and I think everybody wants to be on board.

“Mexico played well (World Cup) and should have progressed. They played some really good matches. Against Argentina they were physical and showed good strength, but we will be ready for Mexico. Historically, we have never beaten Mexico in Mexico, so let’s beat them for the first time next time,” he commented.

The Icelander also expressed his gratitude to the clubs and coaches for allowing the players to attend the midweek sessions, which he intends to keep going. He believes that these camps will give the local players an advantage when the international windows come around.

“A big thanks to the club and coaches. Most other places (countries) it would be denied to have the players during the week. So big respect to them,” he said.

“Physically, we can’t do much. We just want to introduce what we want in attack. The next camp will be about defence. But we must try to get them to play at a higher tempo with more focus than what they are used to. The plan, if clubs allow me, is to have this every other week. We will have two days of outfield sessions. Hopefully, Wednesday and Thursday because they need their recovery days, and I do not want to take their recovery days and return them physically tired to the clubs. So it’s cooperation between me, the coaches and the teams.

“It is good for us to get to know the players. Their advantage will be when it comes to the FIFA break. They will have the advantage of knowing what we want. The players abroad cannot attend these sessions, so they (locals) will have an advantage on those players, and we have no problem selecting domestic players to the squad. Hopefully, we will get them into the position and tactics we want to play.”