Michail Antonio and Leon Bailey, who had quiet games for opposing sides in last weekend’s English Premier League clash, are back in the squad for Jamaica to tackle a pair of crucial CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifiers this month.
Antonio missed the trio of October matches due to a stand-off with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), while Bailey was absent because of a thigh injury. The duo will have high hopes of bagging precious points to get the Reggae Boyz moving up the eight-team table when they face El Salvador and the United States.
Up to 5,000 spectators will be given their first chance to see Antonio up close as the JFF are allowing a limited number of vaccinated fans into Kingston’s National Stadium for the visit of the mighty United States on 16 November.
The powerful British-born striker lasted just 70 minutes on his Jamaica debut, hauled off by head coach Theodore Whitmore during September’s dismal 3-0 home defeat to Panama.
Antonio is one of eight forwards named in the 24-player squad that includes English Championship stars Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham) and Andre Gray (Queens Park Rangers, on loan from Watford).
Kemar Roofe, the hot-shot with Scottish giants Rangers, scored his first international goal during last month’s 2-0 triumph over Honduras. But the Boyz once again lacked real firepower and were grateful for LA Galaxy defender Oniel Fisher to also make the scoresheet.
Fisher is one of five MLS players from the United States that comprises goalkeeper Andre Blake, defensive duo Kemar Lawrence and Alvas Powell as well as forward Cory Burke.
Whitmore was feeling the heat until Jamaica’s maiden victory of their World Cup qualifying campaign and will be expecting to bag maximum points when he takes his troops to El Salvador on 12 November.
El Salvador lie on the same number of points as the Boyz after six matches, with a victory for either side propelling them up the table and back in the chase for one of three automatic berths for Qatar 2022.
Should the Boyz fail to claim victory in El Salvador then the clash against the US will become a must-win result, with just six more matches to play that kicks off with runaway leaders Mexico the visitors in January.
Goalkeepers | Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Dillon Barnes (Queens Park Rangers), Jeadine White (Cavalier SC)
Defenders | Liam Moore (Reading), Adrian Mariappa (Unattached), Damion Lowe (Al-Ittihad), Kemar Lawrence (Toronto FC), Oniel Fisher (LA Galaxy), Gregory Leigh (Morecambe), Alvas Powell (Philadelphia Union)
Midfielders | Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Anthony Grant (Swindon Town), Ravel Morrison (Derby County), Lamar Walker (Miami FC), Je-Vaughn Watson (Humble Lions), Devon Williams (Miami FC)
Strikers | Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Cory Burke (Philadelphia Union), Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham), Javon East (Santos de Gualipes), Junior Flemmings (Birmingham Legion), Andre Gray (Watford, on loan with Queens Park Rangers), Shamar Nicholson (RSC Charleroi), Kemar Roofe (Rangers FC)
CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers table (after six matches) | Mexico 14pts, USA 8pts, Canada 10pts, Panama 8pts, Costa Rica 6pts, Jamaica 5pts, El Salvador 5pts, Honduras 3pts.
Jamaica’s FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers
2 September | 2-1 defeat to Mexico (a)
5 September | 3-0 defeat to Panama (h)
8 September | 1-1 draw with Costa Rica (a)
7 October | 2-0 defeat to USA (a)
10 October | 0-0 draw with Canada (h)
13 October | 2-0 win over Honduras (a)
12 November | El Salvador (a)
16 November | USA (h)
27 January | Mexico (h)
30 January | Panama (a)
2 February | Costa Rica (h)
24 March | El Salvador (h)
27 March | Canada (a)
30 March | Honduras (h)
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