Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore is missing two more first choice players, with defender Alvas Powell and an unnamed island-based star, unable to take the trek to tackle hosts Saudi Arabia because of positive coronavirus tests.
Whitmore was missing stalwart Powell and probably Humble Lions FC shotstopper Dennis Taylor from his 24-strong squad, with the Kingston-born duo of Tyreek Magee and Jeadine White stepping in as their late replacements.
The Jamaica Football Federation revealed today (8 November) that one of the players had tested positive for COVID-19. The Jamaica-based player, who was in quarantine at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence in Kingston since Wednesday, was tested on 7 November but the positive result only became available 24 hours later while he was travelling en route to Saudi Arabia from Kingston to Miami, USA. He has been ordered to isolate in London before being permitted to return to Jamaica.
Defender Powell, based in the United States, was unable to join the Reggae Boyz because a team-mate at his MLS club of Inter Miami FC tested positive for COVID-19 that meant the 26-year-old was deemed a health risk.
Midfielder Magee is an exciting 21-year-old prospect, who last year joined Belgian top tier team Eupen from Harbour View on a four-year deal, and replaced Powell.
Logically the call-up of Cavalier FC keeper Jeadine White, who has made two appearances for the Boyz since making his international debut in 2018 as an 18-year-old, appears to mean that Taylor is the unnamed player to have tested positive.
Taylor was one of five island-based players that spent their time in quarantine in Kingston. He joined Portmore United’s midfield pair of Ricardo Morris and Lamar Walker, 19-year-old Harbour View FC midfielder Jahshaun Anglin and Arnett Gardens’ striker Kemal Malcolm at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.
And Whitmore had already been dealt a blow following free agent Adrian Mariappa’s late withdrawal, with Chavany Willis given a last-gasp nod for the pair of friendlies in western Asia. Willis, on loan from Portmore United at Pennsylvania-based Philadelphia Union II in the USL Championship, has scored once in a trio of appearances for the Boyz since his inaugural call-up last year.
Veteran defender Mariappa is in advanced negotiations to join a new club, so is aiming to tie up a deal during the FIFA international break. However, he misses the opportunity to reach a half-century milestone of games for the Boyz, with 49 matches to his credit since making his debut in 2012.
Whitmore will be keen to rue his eye over his reshuffled squad as they kick off their preparation for next year’s FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers by tackling Saudi Arabia at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Stadium in Riyadh on 14 and 17 November respectively.
Based on this single COVID-19 positive result, the Boyz team management has been implementing regular temperature checks on their contingent.
The entire squad will be tested and quarantined for three days when they finally reach Saudi Arabia, many undertaking a 54-hour trek.
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