The Jamaica interim coach, after tasting yet another defeat, has the option to apply for a vacancy with the lowest-ranked CONCACAF nation
Paul Hall, who seems upbeat about being appointed as head coach of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, could have a back-up plan should his foray into the CONCACAF Nations League fail.
The London-based coach, who this week oversaw a humiliating 6-0 reversal in Spain to regional side Catalonia, has strengthened his squad to tackle Suriname (4 & 7 June) and Mexico (14 June) in Nations League group games.
Hall, who has only masterminded one victory since replacing axed head coach Theodore Whitmore, will probably not be taken on by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) should Suriname prove more than a match for the Boyz.
Even with the return of captain Andre Blake and in-form striker Shamar Nicholson, Jamaica aren’t guaranteed victories over Suriname that would propel them to next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Yet for Hall there is another struggling Caribbean nation seeking to install a head coach in the shape of minnows Anguilla, so he may be tempted to consider that role. It must be almost impossible to fail there as they are FIFA-ranked no.210 with only San Marino below them.
Stern John, the all-time top CONCACAF goalscorer with 70 strikes for Trinidad & Tobago, has made the move from managing Anguilla to taking over the helm with St. Lucia.
The 45-year-old, who played in all three matches for the Soca Warriors in the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, will hope to bag all three points when he tackles Anguilla in the CONCACAF Nations League next month.
His record as head coach with Anguilla, having joined in November 2020, was far from impressive with four successive World Cup qualifying defeats last year. Reversals to the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Dominica was followed by their 13-0 home thumping at the hands of Panama.
However, the former journeyman in English football, stopped the rot by overseeing back-to-back 2-1 friendly successes. He guided Anguilla past the British Virgin Islands on English soil at Bisham in January. Then followed it up a month later by seeing off French Caribbean hosts Saint Martin.
John leaves world-ranked no.210 Anguilla on the hunt for a new head coach with a trio of Nations League matches imminent in June. The second-most capped Trinidad & Tobago international, behind former team-mate Angus Eve, only has two matches lined up for this year so far – both in the Nations League.
St. Lucia are set to visit Dominica for a showdown at the purpose-built Windsor Stadium in Roseau on 9 June. Three days later Stern is due to take charge of his first home game as head coach, with Anguilla the visitors to the Gros Islet Playing Field.
John’s new team withdrew from the last World Cup qualifying campaign, with logistical challenges in respect to assembling a team largely to blame. However, the focus must now surely be on the 2026 World Cup finals with a far easier set of qualifiers as co-hosts Canada, Mexico and the United States will be granted automatic berths for the prestigious competition.
John explained: “The president and the FA have a clear vision of what they want to achieve and the direction they want to take the football.
“I will give it my all to try and bring some level of respect and stability to the national team, and hopefully some smiles to the people of St. Lucia again.
“History shows that this island has produced some quality players in the past who have played professional football in Europe. This is evidence that there are talented and capable players in St Lucia’s football, it’s just to get that belief again among the players and people of St Lucia.
“With the right mindset and with a calculated approach with the necessary support, we can put St Lucia back on the football map in our region.”
John kicked off his career with Columbus Crew in Major League Soccer (MLS), where he won the 1998 MLS Golden Boot with 26 goals.
Ambitious Championship side Nottingham Forest clamoured to sign the prolific goalscorer for a hefty fee of £1.5m in 1999, seeing off a plethora of other potential suitors for John’s signature.
He went on to compete in the top flight for Birmingham City and Sunderland. John also represented other English clubs that included Bristol Rovers, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Derby County and Southampton before he hung up his boots in 2014.
But John, who holds the record as the only Trinidad & Tobago player to score in a dozen successive internationals, twice reversed his decision and came out of retirement to compete in Trinidad for WASA FC and then Central FC.
His impressive international career, amassing 70 goals in 115 appearances, included the highlights of playing at the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. The Soca Warriors finished scoreless against Sweden, but fell 2-0 to both England and Paraguay to bow out at the group stages.
Like former Trinidad & Tobago team-mate Dwight Yorke, who has just been handed his first head coach role in Australia, John was keen to manage.
He was appointed player-coach of TT Pro League outfit Central FC and helped to guide them to the 2016 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship title. John then had spells with the Soca Warriors as head coach of the U17 squad and as assistant coach to the senior side before joining Anguilla.
But John saw 23 goals conceded in their dismal World Cup qualifiers and his side were unable to find the back of the net. This extended their unwanted record of failing to ever bag a World Cup goal from open play, which dates back to their first foray in the competition in March 2000.
St. Lucia are currently world no.176, and lie 25th in the CONCACAF region behind such minnows as Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Grenada as well as St. Kitts & Nevis.
John has a huge job on his hands if he is to transform the nation’s fortunes, with St. Lucia having never cracked the world’s top 100. Ultimately his first task will be to evaluate his squad in Nations League action before he kicks off his search to improve the squad.
Set a goal to make an impact in the CONCACAF region, John now needs to flex his scoring muscles as a coach to ensure that St. Lucia become as collectively abundant at grabbing goals as he did throughout his illustrious career.
Hall, who only recently was promoted to U23 head coach at London-based QPR, has been fast-tracked onto the international scene. His foray with Jamaica is not impressing fans, former players nor media pundits. Yet the JFF seems enamoured by the 49-year-old despite a string of appalling results and far from clinical team performances.
Should the next two competitive matches, against relative minnows Suriname, not bring the desired results for Jamaica then Hall may definitely consider casting his net towards Anguilla.
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