Opponents Guyana edged out Suriname on 8 October in a five-goal thriller and a victory over Whitmore’s Boyz will spell the end of Jamaica’s Caribbean Cup defence. With just a trio of teams in the group and only two matches a-piece, one home game and one away for each side, then Whitmore is under pressure to claim victory.
He was due to have kicked off his return at the helm on 5 October against Suriname, but the tie in Kingston was delayed by safety concerns following Hurricane Matthew – and the rescheduled game has yet to be re-arranged.
But that will be a dead rubber, with both sides playing for pride, should Guyana register success inside their purpose-built Leonora Stadium on the outskirts of Georgetown.
So Whitmore has no choice but to select an attack-minded side to see off Guyana, although a draw would suffice as then a win over Suriname by at least a two-goal margin would carry the Boyz into next year’s four-team Caribbean Cup competition in the United States.
Whitmore, who was extremely popular both as a player and as head coach, has already stamped his authority by making wholesale changes to his squad.
Gone are both veterans and those based in Europe, replaced by a combination of home-grown talent and a sprinkling from the United States as these two Caribbean Cup ties are considered to be a relatively easy task to score maximum points.
Whitmore, who guided the Boyz to Caribbean Cup glory in 2010, is on a do or die mission in Guyana. Maximum points means that Jamaica are in a strong position to make it through to next year’s money-spinning Caribbean Cup.
Yet failure in Guyana will add to Jamaica’s woes after producing insipid displays during their inept World Cup Qualifying campaign, which cost head coach Winfried Schäfer his job.
Schäfer’s severance pay-off deal, which ends his contract that was due to expire in 2018, has almost been finalised after figures were agreed with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
It was Schäfer who filled Whitmore’s boots after the Boyz lost direction and confidence, leaking goals and en route to becoming the laughing stock of Caribbean football.
Whitmore’s second coming, which allows him to prove that he was always the best man for the role, is a tough ask with players of questionable international quality in his new-look squad.
He coped admirably with the pressure as a player, but should he taste defeat in Guyana then he will be gone for a second time with the JFF forced to desperately hunt for a new head coach in order to kick-off a new era for the Boyz.
JAMAICA SQUAD: Dwayne Ambursely, Michael Binns, Cory Burke, Shaun Francis, Owayne Gordon, Ewan Grandison, Rosario Harriott, Omar Holness, Kemar Lawrence, Damion Lowe, Darren Mattocks, Dever Orgill, Alvas Powell, Ladale Ritchie, Ryan Thompson, Andrew Vanzie, Je-Vaughn Watson, Dicoy Williams, Dino Williams