Dujuan “Whisper” Richards, the talented teenage striker who’s signed a pre-contract with big-spending Chelsea, is one of the stars of the future named in the provisional roster for the CONCACAF 2023 Gold Cup. The Port Royal-born hotshot, who plies his trade with Jamaican outfit Phoenix All Star until he reaches 18 in November and can then move to the English Premier League (EPL), is one of only 10 players who compete in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL).
All 25 nations competing in the Gold Cup have released their preliminary rosters, which can include a maximum of 60 players — Jamaica has named 50. These will be cut down to just 23 for the tournament, which kicks off with the preliminary rounds on 16 June.
Richards, who made his debut for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz in the shock 1-0 friendly home defeat to a youthful Trinidad & Tobago side in March, is considered to be a goal machine in the same mould as Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland.
Whether Jamaica head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson will give Richards a chance to be a shining star at the prestigious Gold Cup finals remains to be seen.
Hallgrimsson has called up Everton forward Demarai Gray, who recently received his documents to represent the Boyz. He joins other EPL strikers in the provisional roster in the shape of Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa) and Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham).
Goals have been difficult to come by for the ex-Iceland head coach, who only took the helm this year. His remit from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is to steer the Boyz to the 2026 FIFA World Cup finals, which will be played in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Island-based forwards in the roster alongside Richards comprise Cavalier SC’s Collin Anthony as well as Mount Pleasant’s Atapharoy Bygrave and Trivante Stewart.
At the other end of the pitch Waterhouse FC’s Kemar Foster is the only JPL shotstopper named. There are three JPL defenders included — Fitzroy Cummings (Vere United FC), Oshane Staple (Harbour View FC) and Ricardo Thomas (Dunbeholden FC). With just the JPL midfield duo of Demario Phillips (Mount Pleasant) and Lamar Walker (Portmore United FC) named.
Although there had been rumours swirling around the island that England-based winger Reiss Nelson would soon be part of Hallgrimsson’s plans, the Arsenal fringe player has not been named.
Jamaica, who reached the Gold Cup final in 2015 and 2017, had been in freefall over recent times under former star players Theodore Whitmore and Paul Hall in charge.
Hallgrimmson’s initial results have yet to set the JFF and fans alight. He has partly blamed the state of the pitches in Jamaica, but will have no excuse at the Gold Cup.
He’ll need to trim his squad to find a fine balance when the Boyz tackle a group that contains defending champions USA, who are led by interim head coach Anthony Hudson.
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.
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.
Mexico, 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. El Salvador and a winner from the preliminaries — either Martinique, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia or Suriname — complete the group.
Canada, rejuvenated under British-born head coach John Herdman, will be aiming to improve on their disappointing showings at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar. 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.
JAMAICA PROVISIONAL 50-PLAYER ROSTER
Goalkeepers (6) | Corey Addai (Crawley Town, England), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union, USA), Coniah Boyce-Clarke (Reading, England), Kemar Foster (Waterhouse FC), Amal Knight (Lexington SC, USA), Jahmali Waite (Pittsburgh Riverhounds, USA)
Defenders (18) | Luke Badley-Morgan (Stoke City, England), Amari’i Bell (Luton Town, England), Dishon Bernard (Portsmouth, England), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps, Canada), Fitzroy Cummings (Vere United FC), Wes Harding (Rotherham United, England), Michael Hector (Charlton Athletic, England), Richard King (IBV, Iceland), Joel Latibeaudiere (Swansea City, Wales), Kemar Lawrence (Minnesota United FC, USA), Greg Leigh (Ipswich Town, England), Dexter Lembikisa (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union, USA), Adrian Mariappa (Salford City, England), Oshane Staple (Harbour View FC), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford, England), Alvas Powell (FC Cincinnati, USA), Ricardo Thomas (Dunbeholden FC)
Midfielders (13) | Ian Fray (Inter Miami CF, USA), Omari Giraud-Hutchinson (Chelsea, England), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End, England), Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising FC, USA), Jamal Lowe (QPR, England), Ravel Morrison (DC United, USA), Kaheem Paris (FC Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine), Demario Phillips (Mount Pleasant), Kemar Roofe (Rangers, Scotland), Jon Russell (Barnsley Town, England), Delano Splatt (Fulham, England), Lamar Walker (Portmore United FC), Devon Williams (Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, USA)
Strikers (13) | Collin Anthony (Cavalier SC, Jamaica), Michail Antonio (West Ham United, England), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa, England), Cory Burke (NY Red Bulls, USA), Atapharoy Bygrave (Mount Pleasant), Renaldo Cephas (KF Shkupi, North Macedonia), Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham, England), Junior Flemmings (Toulouse, France), Demarai Gray (Everton, England), Daniel Green (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam), Shamar Nicholson (Spartak Moscow, Russia), Dujuan Richards (Phoenix All Stars), Trivante Stewart (Mount Pleasant)
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