Michail Antonio, the West Ham United striker, has been named in Jamaica’s 60-player squad to tackle next month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
But the London-born 31-year-old, who has been selected for England under two different head coaches but never featured, could miss out on the tournament as he is forced to play the waiting game on finalising his official documents to represent the Reggae Boyz.
Theodore Whitmore, who recently masterminded a creditable 1-1 draw against Serbia then saw his tactics come crashing down with a ponderous 4-0 reversal at the hands of Japan’s Olympic team, will soon have to trim this squad to just 23.
Leon Bailey, Bayer Leverkusen’s whizzy winger, may have to skip the prestigious regional competition. He is still recovering from a broken toe, which occurred in the final few weeks of the German Bundesliga season.
Whitmore, the Jamaica head coach, seemed to be leaned on by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to strengthen the squad with English-based stars who also boast the eligibility earlier this year. However, there are just 16 players named in this squad who ply their trade in Britain.
Watford striker Andre Gray and Reading defender Liam Moore, two recent additions to the Boyz, are included in the preliminary squad alongside the exciting talents of Swansea City hot-shot Jamal Lowe and Brentford defender Ethan Pinnock.
Two London-born 27-year-old midfielders have been included in a Jamaican squad, albeit a provisional one, for the first time. Wigan Athletic’s Jordon Cousins, who was capped from U16 to U20 level by England, joins Blackpool’s Kevin Stewart. Both competed in League One last term. Yet there is no place for Kingston-born Darlington midfielder Omar Holness, who has played five international matches and was on the losing side against the United States this year.
Kemar Foster, Portmore United FC’s 28-year-old goalkeeper gets his first international nod to join seven other shotstoppers in the provisional squad that welcomes back influential captain Andre Blake. There is surprisingly no place for Mount Pleasant’s no.1 Shaven Paul, with QPR’s Dillon Barnes included despite looking lacklustre against Japan’s Olympic team.
The 2021 Gold Cup is due to take place from 10 July until 1 August in the United States, with a newly-introduced preliminary phase to be played 2-6 July for relative minnows such as Cuba, Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago.
Jamaica are pitched in a Group C with Costa Rica, Suriname and one other nation from the preliminary phase. The Boyz’ group stage games will be contested in Orlando and Texas. The top two nations from the four-team Group round-robin encounters will advance to the knockout stage of the quarter-finals, with the final to be hosted at the newly-built Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas.
With such gruelling seasons to recover from for a plethora of top-flight players, and the focus for most nations being the upcoming regional qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, then Whitmore’s final squad selection for the Gold Cup could spring some surprises.
Montego Bay-born Whitmore methodically guided his Boyz to the 2019 semi-final and 2017 final of the region’s showpiece tournament, but this year should be aiming for Jamaica to be crowned Gold Cup for the first time as Costa Rica, Mexico and the United States are due to field weakened teams.
Jamaica’s next game is against Suriname at Orlando’s Exploria Stadium on 12 July, which will kick off Group C in the Gold Cup and may witness Antonio’s debut.
The JFF know that the Boyz have a shot at winning this prestigious competition, but they surely will be bitterly disappointed that they were unable to unveil the new-look Boyz side that JFF president Michael Ricketts mentioned back in March.
Yet the JFF have their eye on one other prize that is far more lucrative than lifting the Gold Cup, which is winning a place at the World Cup finals in Qatar 2022. Whether Antonio and Bailey will be involved in the all-important regional World Cup qualifiers this September remains to be seen.
Gold Cup preliminary squad
Goalkeepers (8) | DILLON BARNES (QUEENS PARK RANGERS, ENG), ANDRE BLAKE (PHILADELPHIA UNION, USA), AKEEM CHAMBERS (WATERHOUSE FC, JAM), KEMAR FOSTER (PORTMORE UNITED FC, JAM), AMAL KNIGHT (UNATTACHED), DWAYNE MILLER (SYRIANSKA, SWE), DENNIS TAYLOR (HUMBLE LIONS FC, JAM), JEADINE WHITE (CAVALIER FC, JAM)
Defenders (15) | AMARI’I BELL (BLACKBURN ROVERS FC), JAVAIN BROWN (VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC, CAN), ONIEL FISHER (LA GALAXY, USA), WESLEY HARDING (ROTHERHAM UNITED, ENG), MICHAEL HECTOR (FULHAM, ENG), KEMAR LAWRENCE (TORONTO FC, CAN), GREGORY LEIGH (ABERDEEN, SCO), DAMION LOWE (AL-ITTIHAD, KSA), ADRIAN MARIAPPA (BRISTOL CITY, ENG), LIAM MOORE (READING, ENG), ETHAN PINNOCK (BRENTFORD, ENG), ALVAS POWELL (PHILADELPHIA UNION, USA), LADALE RICHIE (MOUNT PLEASANT, JAM), AJEANIE TALBOTT (HARBOUR VIEW FC, JAM), CURTIS TILT (ROTHERHAM UNITED, ENG)
Midfielders (19) | LEON BAILEY (BAYER LEVERKUSEN,GER), JAHSHAUN MUSTAF (MIAMI FC, USA), JORDAN COUSINS (WIGAN ATHLETIC, ENG), KEVAUGHN ISAACS (MOUNT PLEASANT, JAM), DANIEL JOHNSON (PRESTON NORTH END, ENG), KEVON LAMBERT (PHOENIX RISING, USA), LUCA LEVEE (HARBOUR VIEW FC, JAM), JAMAL LOWE (SWANSEA CITY, WAL), TYREEK MAGEE (KAS EUPEN, BEL), CHEVONE MARSH (AD CHALATENANGO (SLV), RICARDO MORRIS (PORTMORE UNITED FC, JAM), RAVEL MORRISON (UNATTACHED), KASEY PALMER (BRISTOL CITY, ENG), KAHEEM PARRIS (NK KRKA, SVN), KEMAR ROOFE (RANGERS, SCO), KEVIN STEWART (BLACKPOOL, ENG), LAMAR WALKER (MIAMI FC, USA), JE-VAUGHN WATSON (UNATTACHED), DEVON WILLIAMS (MIAMI FC, USA)
Forwards (18) | MICHAIL ANTONIO (WEST HAM UNITED, ENG), BRIAN BROWN (NEW MEXICO UNITED, USA), CORY BURKE (PHILADELPHIA UNION, USA), NORMAN CAMPBELL (FK GRAFIČAR BEOGRAD, SRB), BOBBY DECORDOVA-REID (FULHAM, ENG), JAVON EAST (SANTOS DE GUAPILES, CRC), JUNIOR FLEMMINGS (BIRMINGHAM LEGION, USA), OWAYNE GORDON (AUSTIN BOLD, USA), ANDRE GRAY (WATFORD, ENG), DANE KELLY (CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE, USA), KEMAL MALCOLM (AD CHALATENANGO, SLV), COLORADO MURRAY (WATERHOUSE FC, JAM), SHAMAR NICHOLSON (ROYAL CHARLEROI SC, BEL), DEVER ORGILL (ANTALYASPOR, TUR), BLAIR TURGOTT (OSTERSUNDS FK, SWE), PETER VASSELL (INDY ELEVEN, USA), ROMARIO WILLIAMS (AL-ITTIHAD, KSA), CHAVANY WILLIS (PORTMORE UNITED FC, JAM)
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