News/SportsReggae Boyz

Hall Fails Audition In Spain As Reggae Boyz Are Hit For Six

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Hefty defeat makes a mockery of interim head coach’s gamble on youth

Paul Hall, eager to be appointed as Jamaica’s head coach, saw his experimental side outplayed to suffer a a 6-0 drubbing by Catalonia at the Estadi Municipal de Montilivi in Girona today (25 May).

The 49-year-old, who has registered only one victory since being elevated from assistant coach to interim coach in December, had no answer for the slick Spanish regional side.

Catalonia, who are not affiliated by FIFA and UEFA, breezed into a 4-0 half-time lead and with a weakened side polished off the Reggae Boyz in front of 6,124 spectators.


The one-sided success for Catalonia, who were playing their first game in three years, leaves big question marks over whether the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) should consider installing Hall at the helm.

Jamaica’s latest 20-strong squad primarily comprised youngsters, which included nine uncapped players. As London-based Hall combines his international role by coaching QPR’s U23 side, he introduced a handful of players from the Championship.

In contrast Gerard Lopez, a former midfielder for Barcelona, who was able to call up a plethora of Spanish top-flight players. His squad included four from Betis, with two representatives from both Barcelona and Espanyol. There were also ex-Barcelona stars on show, namely England-based duo Marc Cucurella (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Oriol Romeu (Southampton).

Lopez, who had a weakened squad for the friendly, said beforehand: “With all of our players available, we would without doubt be a World Cup team”.

Usually the La Liga clubs are reluctant to release players, so Catalonia end up with those from a lower league. But as the domestic season has just ended, Lopez had a strong squad, which included Barcelona defender Oscar Mingueza and midfielder Dani Olmo who helped RB Leipzig to a Europa League semi-final as well as lifting the German Cup.

The Boyz looked lost after Gerard Deulofeu made a 4th-minute breakthrough. The striker latched onto a weak backpass and sublimely rounded the goalkeeper to rock the Montilivi Stadium.

Jamaica’s inexperienced pair of Ajeanie Talbot and Tarick Ximines were substituted on 20 minutes because of injury, but that was no excuse for this dreadful result. The Boyz simply looked shell-shocked throughout a one-sided opening half, torn apart and failed to muster a single shot on target.


Deulofeu, who enjoyed a impressive season in the Italian top tier with Udinese, doubled their lead on 29 minutes by converting a pass from Barcelona star Riqui Puig.

Newly-appointed captain Marc Bartra slotted home a third goal five minutes later, with Deulofeu completing his hat-trick on the verge of the half-time whistle.

Hall had little choice but to make changes after the turnaround, and despite a more stubborn rearguard his side conceded more goals.

The hosts also altered their line-up following the break, resting the impressive quartet of Barta, Deulofeu, Puig and Cristian Tello.

It remained Boyz versus men. Ferran Jutglà, who plays for Barcelona B side, swept in Javi Puado’s pass on 75 minutes. But then the Boyz fought back and managed three shots on target without really looking likely to score.

Puado made no mistake with his last-gasp penalty to complete the rout, which handed Hall his heaviest defeat as interim coach. This was his third defeat in five matches, with Hall tactically outmanoeuvred by Catalonia head coach Sergio Gonzalez.

Despite a string of dreadful results, Hall continues to be highly regarded by the JFF with his UEFA Pro Licence. Yet this latest debacle may be a spanner in the works for his desperate dream to be named as Jamaica’s head coach.

He is well-known to the JFF, having competed in the 1998 World Cup finals for the Boyz and scored 14 goals in 48 internationals.

Hall revealed to a local newspaper in England, The News: “I’ve said to Jamaica [the JFF] that if you want me to carry on you must remove the interim title – and they are.


“We are talking about the contract and doing something long-term, but they are not a federation that is gifted with finances. However, for me to step away from QPR it would have to be a long-term deal.

“I applied for this job and I’m their first choice to take it. Maybe I will quit QPR. They [the JFF] are allowing me the experience of being an international manager.

“We never really looked like qualifying for Qatar [World Cup finals]. I took the job with four games to go, yet we weren’t one of the strongest teams. We didn’t get that close, but I believe next time we will.

“I need to reduce the average age, because it’s an ageing group of players. We have Michael Antonio (West Ham), Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham), Ravel Morrison (Derby County), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and I must build around these guys.”

Hall seems most likely to remain as the interim head coach for Jamaica’s Nations League group games against South American minnows Suriname on 4 June and 7 June.

Some of the big guns from the UK and US are anticipated to be back for these important matches. Their involvement seems imperative as Hall needs to turn things around quickly, which he could achieve by chalking up victories to show his worth to the JFF.

Yet the real tests for Hall, should he still be in charge, are next month’s games against South American giants Uruguay (friendly) and Mexico (Nations League).

With mixed feelings about Hall from former players and current coaches, the former Reggae Boy needs to eek out at least another win to improve his appalling record.

Unless things are transformed soon then Jamaica will continue to fade like other former Caribbean heavyweights, such as Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago.

The show must go on as far as the JFF are concerned. Whether they will take a punt with Hall, or widen their search for a head coach who has top flight credentials, remains in the balance.


Back-to-back clashes against Suriname offer Hall a opportunity to revive his high hopes. However, surely a heavy reversal to either Uruguay and Mexico will spell the end to his ambition to be appointed head coach.

4 June | Suriname (a) | Nations League
7 June | Suriname (h)| Nations League
11 June | Uruguay (a) | friendly
14 June | Mexico (h) | Nations League

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