POSITIVE as ever, Jermaine Johnson is advising his Jamaican teammates to keep looking at the big target despite dropping points at home in Friday’s disheartening 1-1 World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) draw against Panama at the National Stadium.
“We’ve eight more games, we just need to stay focused,” said Johnson after adding much spark to the Jamaica team while replacing Jobi McAnuff at the 77th minute.
Johnson made three dribbles covering nearly half the length of the pitch, as he pushed a dominating Panama team back against their goal and rekindled Jamaica’s hopes of scoring a game-winner.
The Jamaicans led 1-0 on Marvin Elliott’s 23rd-minute header, but Luis Henriquez tied up the match with a 66th-minute conversion.
“The points that we dropped, unfortunately I think we should’ve got the three points,” he said.
“We’re disappointed to drop three points because it’s a home game; you’re going to be disappointed.”
However, Johnson says all is not lost.
“We just have to keep our feet on the ground and remain focused and try to get the win against Costa Rica in our next game,” he said of tomorrow’s encounter.
The attacking midfielder had started in Jamaica’s opening match when they secured a historic 0-0 draw in Mexico, the first time a Jamaican football team had managed to play unbeaten in the high-altitude Mexico City venue. Additionally, he had acquitted himself well and was looking to maintain his place in the starting eleven against Panama.
“I was expecting to start, but football is football, you’ve to respect the coach’s decision and whenever you get called upon, you’ve to go out there and do your best for the team and the fans,” he said.
Whitmore explained his decision to change the starting team was about choosing horses for courses.
“When you look at the Panama team and the way we wanted to play against them, we had to make some adjustments,” the coach said.
“Probably it didn’t work out for us, for a number of reasons, but we just have to go back and look at the tape and see where we went wrong and move on.”
Johnson, in the meantime, noted the thinking that allowed him to slice through Panama time and again.
“To be honest, anytime I’m on the bench I try to focus and see what’s happening on the pitch … then I just go back to my Tivoli days and go at players. I’m a dribbler,” he reaffirmed.
“Every single time you go on the pitch, you’ve to size up the game.”
Johnson and his Reggae Boyz team-mates are now sizing up their next task. They had a pool session after flying into Costa Rica via charter on Saturday, and went through a 90-minute work-out yesterday with coaches Theodore Whitmore and his assistant, Alfredo Montesso, drilling the players to maintain their shape.