Reggae Boyz aiming to strengthen squad with fresh faces
Theodore Whitmore and Michael Ricketts are in England for a whistlestop tour to talk to England-based football players about representing Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.
The pair flew in yesterday in a bid to bolster the national team, who have been stuttering recently but scrapped into the lucrative 16-team CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Ricketts, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, and head coach Whitmore – who played over a hundred games with English sides Hull City and Tranmore Rovers – are aware that reinforcements are needed for the Gold Cup and future FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The JFF had previously turned their back on bringing in European-based players after head coach Winifred Schäfer was axed in 2016.
Whitmore replaced the German coach but his hands were tied, due to JFF financial restraints, and he was given the task of attempting to unearth talent from the Caribbean island.
Varied results developed although players who ply their trade in North America and a handful from Europe have been gradually drafted in.
Arguably Jamaica’s worst performance under Whitmore, who replaced Schäfer, was last month when the Boyz were aiming to win at least a point against hosts El Salvador to guarantee a Gold Cup spot and progress in the new Nations League competition. Their 2-0 defeat was a lacklustre display with the side brimming with players who had thrived a couple of years, especially drafted in for the all important contest.
A dismal display against an experimental Costa Rica team followed with a 1-0 reversal, which on paper looks good but the opening 45 minutes from the Boyz were embarrassing for Jamaica fans.
These two matches seem to have jolted the JFF to taking positive steps forward.
With their place in the Gold Cup sealed, courtesy of other results swinging their way, Jamaica also managed to land a double-header at Kingston’s National Stadium for the competition. CONCACAF are paying the costs for marketing and hosting the two games on 17 June, leaving the JFF to make good money from these matches and the rest of their games in the tournament.
The JFF are therefore keen to invest the money they will rake in from hosting the first ever Caribbean-based Gold Cup games, and since being awarded the two matches (Curacao v El Salvador, 6pm ko and Jamaica v Honduras, 8pm ko – both Jamaican time) have been encouraging England-based players to meet with them to don the national gold shirt.
Ricketts explained: “We have some young players who have expressed an interest to play for us.
“I had discussions with the coach, and the coach thinks there are some areas that he really needs to strengthen. So we’ve asked our agent to make contact with some of these players.”
Jamaica are firmly focused on the future as the Boyz need to be buoyant once more, so bringing in new talent from England appears to be a step in the right direction by the JFF.
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