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Reggae Boyz Prepare For A Solid Gold Cup Run

Everton’s Demarai Gray (left) and Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson
Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Heimir Hallgrimsson’s troops aiming to be all fired up to gun down new-look US

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have been drawn into a group that contains defending champions USA when they tackle the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup (24 June–16 July).

Nicaragua, who lie 77 places behind FIFA-ranked world no.63 Jamaica, and a preliminary round qualifier — either Curacao, French Guiana, Sint Maarten or St. Kitts & Nevis — will make up four-nation Group A.

The Boyz face the US at Chicago’s Soldier Field on 24 June, play Nicaragua at CITYPARK in St. Louis four days later and complete their group games at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on 2 July.

The US lifted the 2021 Gold Cup with a squad primarily from the MLS, although interim head coach Anthony Hudson is expected to bring in players who ply their trade overseas. Hudson, who kicked off his coaching career with non-league Welsh outfit Newport County, has only been in charge of the Stars and Stripes since January.


Jamaica head coach Heimer Hallgrimsson, who has also been at the helm since the start of the year, has the option to call upon a plethora of English Premier League aces. These include the trio of strikers Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa) and Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham).

Rumours are swirling around the island that two England-based wingers, Everton’s Demarai Gray and Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson, could soon be part of Hallgrimsson’s plans at the prestigious Gold Cup finals.
Jamaica, who magnificently reached the Gold Cup final in 2015 and 2017, have been in freefall over recent times under former star players Theodore Whitmore and Paul Hall.

After the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) signed a lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with German sportswear manufacturers adidas, it was soon announced that ex-Iceland head coach Hallgrimsson would take charge. His remit is to steer the Boyz to the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals, to be played in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

With those three main rivals automatically given a berth at the next World Cup finals, coupled with FIFA increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48, then Jamaica have a real shot at emulating the squad that made it to their first finals in 1998.

Jamaica’s debut at the World Cup finals in France was heavily reliant on a large contingent of English-based players, which resulted in the nickname of the Reggae Boyz, and history could repeat itself under Hallgrimsson.

His initial results with Jamaica have hardly been inspiring, although he has partly blamed the state of the pitches on the island. This tournament will be his first opportunity to prove to the JFF that he’s the right man to take the Boyz forward.

Mexico also have changed head coach, with Argentine Diego Cocca recently installed. The 2021 Gold Cup runners-up face tricky opposition in Group B as they must tackle revitalised Haiti, Honduras and guest team Qatar — the AFC Asian Cup champions.


Central American sides Costa Rica and Panama will be vying to top Group C. The two have recently experienced passionate and physical encounters. Panama only missed out on the 2022 World Cup finals after losing to Costa Rica, but they gained revenge by beating their rivals in the 2023 Nations League.

El Salvador, who are gaining momentum with ever-improving results, and a winner from the preliminaries — either Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia or Suriname — complete the group.

Canada, who have rapidly climbed the FIFA rankings to world no.47 under British-born head coach John Herdman, will be aiming to improve on their disappointing showings at Qatar ‘22.

They will be ready to bounce back after suffering a semi-final knockout blow from Mexico’s 99th-minute winner at the 2021 Gold Cup finals. Canada have been handed, what appears on paper, to be the easier group in the main draw.

They will tackle Cuba, Guatemala and a preliminary round qualifier— either Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana or Trinidad & Tobago — in their Group D games.

The tournament will be played across 14 metropolitan areas in Canada and the US, with the final scheduled for a showdown at the SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on 16 July.

Hallgrimsson’s troops will need to be firing on all cylinders if they are going to be gunning for glory. However, he may well have added some new names to his armoury to give the Boyz a shot at winning their maiden Gold Cup trophy.


Preliminary 1st Round
(all played at DRV PNK Stadium, Fort Lauderdale)

16 June Match-up 1 | Trinidad & Tobago v Guadeloupe
16 June Match-up 2 | Martinique v St. Lucia
16 June Match-up 3 | Curacao v St. Kitts & Nevis (DRV PNK Stadium)

17 June Match-up 4 | French Guiana v Sint Maarten
17 June Match-up 5 | Suriname v Puerto Rico
17 June Match-up 6 | Guyana v Grenada

Preliminary 2nd Round
(all played at DRV PNK Stadium)
20 June Match-up 7 |
Winner Match-up 1 v Winner Match-up 6

20 June Match-up 8 | Winner Match-up 2 v Winner Match-up 5
20 June Match-up 9 | Winner Match-up 3 v Winner Match-up 4


Main draw
Group A |
USA, Jamaica, Nicaragua & Winner preliminary match 9

Group B | Mexico, Haiti, Honduras & Qatar
Group C | Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador & Winner preliminary match 8
Group D | Canada, Guatemala, Cuba & Winner preliminary match 7

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