Overseas players to add competitive edge for Jamaica following trio of friendlies
Theodore Whitmore has a trio of friendlies to cast his eye over Jamaican-based talent before bringing in overseas players to tackle the high-octane CONCACAF Nations League.
The head coach kicks off with a friendly against hosts Grenada on Friday before Monday’s showdown against Barbados, followed by a hastily arranged game against Ecuador in the United States.
Whitmore has a plethora of local talent at his disposal but his short-term goal is to impress at next year’s Gold Cup before pressing for his Reggae Boyz to qualify for the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar.
These are certainly exciting, yet potentially unnerving, times to be a fan of the Boyz. However, such uncertainty leaves the majority of Whitmore’s current crop of players to don Jamaica’s gold shirt ill at ease about their future.
Michael Ricketts, the Jamaica Football Federation president, is determined to make the Boyz a force to be reckoned with so is eager to bolster the squad with experienced players from Europe and North America.
However, Whitmore has so far been successful utilising those who ply their trade in Jamaica. He will be given the opportunity, as from next month, to start to bring in those who have played top-tier club football abroad.
Ravel Morrison, a former Manchester United ace but in recent years totally disguarded by leading teams in England and Italy, is touted to be added to the squad after he was recently issued with his Jamaican passport. And Bobby Reid, Cardiff City’s hot-shot striker, is another name kicking around.
Although the pair that have been receiving media coverage – German-based Leon Bailey (wanted by Italian giants AS Roma) and Usain Bolt (attempting to become a professional footballer by training with Australian A-League side Central Coast Mariners) – won’t be part of the new, improved Boyz who will be vying for stand-out results.
Whitmore has plenty of players to choose from scattered around Canada, England and the United States, but for the next couple of matches will concentrate on honing his 20-man squad for visits to the Eastern Caribbean islands of Grenada and Barbados.
With the Boyz FIFA world-ranked by FIFA at no.54, they are expected to reel off straightforward victories at the Kirani James Athletic Stadium in St. George’s on Friday and at the Barbados FA Wildey on Monday (both 7pm ko local time).
Although no new faces from overseas are expected to be added to the squad for the friendly against Ecuador in New Jersey on 7 September, there will be a separate squad that tackles their Nations League opener at Kingston’s national stadium against the Cayman Islands on 9 September.
Ricketts explained that Jamaica will be forced to field two different teams for these September games, but will continue to rely on home-grown talent against Ecuador.
He said: “Any new players (from overseas) will not be included in this game against Ecuador, but we are looking at some young, bright, exciting prospects for the future.
“We have a large squad and we’ll be able to manoeuvre in an effective way so that we have a different squad playing on the 7th and another squad playing on the 9th.
“We’ll be bringing in some overseas players from England and some playing in the MLS (in North America), although the core of the team will be made up of home-based players.”
The future of Jamaica’s place on the world stage could become heavily reliant on those with tenuous links to the island, but Whitmore is a natural leader and fighter so won’t be pushed into bringing in names just because of their former reputation.
The battle to be part of the Boyz squad is about to commence with potentially a new and exciting chapter in Jamaica’s football history about to kick-off.
Jamaica squad: Amal Knight (UWI FC), Fabion McCarthy (UWI FC), Damion Hyatt (Arnett Gardens FC), Fabian Reid (Arnett Gardens FC), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United FC), Javon East (Portmore United FC), Maalique Foster (Portmore United FC), Damano Solomon (Portmore United FC), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United), Javain Brown (Harbour View FC), Peter-Lee Vassell (Harbour View FC), Daniel Green (Harbour View FC), Ajeanie Talbott (Harbour View FC), Ricardo Thomas (Waterhouse FC), Tevin Shaw (Tivoli Gardens FC), Barrington Pryce (Tivoli Gardens FC), Alex Marshall (Cavalier Soccer Club), Chevone Marsh (Cavalier Soccer Club), Kaheem Parris (Cavalier Soccer Club), Kevaughn Isaac (Humble Lion FC).
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