Jamaica head coach wants JFF support for Nations League games
Theodore Whitmore, the under-fire national head coach, has called on the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to support him in his goal to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar.
Whitmore, heavily criticised by former players for his team selection and tactics at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, went on the defensive in a presentation to the JFF.
And the former midfielder gets the chance to put his Reggae Boyz through their paces next month and shoot down his critics by getting them to play free-flowing football.
The Boyz kick off their campaign in the CONCACAF Nations League, Group Phase on 6 September, when they host Antigua & Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex (7pm ko).
The match will be their first since stuttering in the Gold Cup semi-finals, when they suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the United States with a lacklustre display.
But the Boyz’ biggest plus from the biennial tournament was the prowess of 22-year-old striker Shamar Nicholson, who signed a four-year deal with Belgian top-flight club Royal Charleroi Sporting Club yesterday (13 August).
The former Boys Town FC star moved from the Jamaica Red Stripe Premier League to Slovenian club NK Domžale in 2017, and this year has been banging the goals in for club and country.
He only got his opportunity to impress Whitmore as there was player unrest during the Gold Cup, related to both financial rewards and travel arrangements.
In-form Nicholson is expected to get the nod to start against Antigua & Barbuda and also be an automatic choice when the Boyz travel for their next Nations League tie against Guyana on 9 September.
Whitmore explained in a presentation to key executives at the JFF: “It is important that at the end of the Nations League group phase that the country finishes in the top six in the CONCACAF rankings in order to be in the best position entering the World Cup qualifiers in September 2020.”
CONCACAF has determined that only the leading six nations in the June 2020 world rankings will compete for the region’s direct FIFA 2022 World Cup berths.
Three teams from the CONCACAF region will qualify for the highly lucrative World Cup finals in Qatar, which kicks off on 21 November 2022 with 32 nations set to compete in the heat of the Middle East.
Jamaica, by reaching their third Gold Cup semi-final on the bounce, are currently FIFA ranked at world no.52. But other nations are chasing these automatic CONCACAF slots for the World Cup qualifiers that are headed by Honduras (world no.67), El Salvador (68), Panama (74), Canada (78), Curacao (79) and Haiti (83).
Whitmore added in his address to the JFF: “Even after furnishing in the CONCACAF top six in November 2019, it will be important to maintain that position through other FIFA international match dates down to June 2020. So I’m urging total focus and support through the next couple of months in the first instance.”
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