News/SportsReggae Boyz

Reggae Boyz Biting At The Bit As Underdogs

Author: Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd

Demarai Gray returns for Jamaica to tackle Copa America 2024

Heimir Hallgrimsson’s maiden foray into the prestigious Copa America, when the cream of South American nations descend, should be a good litmus test for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz.

The Jamaica head coach has a plethora of attacking options. Even though Leon Bailey has been named in his squad, the Aston Villa striker’s father/agent has revealed that the 26-year-old won’t be involved.

Hallgrimsson has shelved his front line of Jamaica-based duo Deshane Beckford and Devonte Campbell as well as New York Red Bulls’ Cory Burke from the recent woeful World Cup qualifiers. Demarai Gray, who plies his trade with Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League, returns.


Gray is expected to lead the line alongside veteran Michail Antonio, who was recently nursing an injury, and in-form Shamar Nicholson. Although both talented teenager Kaheim Dixon and Turkey-based Renaldo Cephas could be given a chance.

Antonio, Bailey, attacking midfielder Bobby Decordova-Reid and defender Ethan Pinnock are the only English Premier League (EPL) players picked. There are numerous others who compete outside the top flight in England, as well as many of the usual suspects who play in the United States.

There are only four players in the squad who ply their trade in Jamaica. Namely goalie Shaquan Davis (Mount Pleasant FC), defender Richard King (Cavalier SC), midfielder Alex Marshall (Portmore United) and forward Dixon (Arnett Gardens FC).

Jamaica, who reached the 2023 Gold Cup semi-finals, will hope that it is third time lucky at the Copa America having failed to make it out of the group stages when they played in the 2015 and 2016 tournaments.

The Boyz have been drawn into Group B, which features Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela. Although Mexico would usually be the strongest side, head coach Jaime “Jimmy” Lozano as interim head coach for the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and after winning the top prize he was appointed on a permanent basis. Yet he is surprisingly reliant on emerging talents, offering them an opportunity to showcase their silky skills and resting his veterans ahead of the World Cup qualifiers.

For the Reggae Boyz this appears to be a real hit and miss group. Ecuador, Jamaica and Venezuela are all capable of beating understrength Mexico but the runners-up would most likely tackle Lionel Messi and his Argentina team-mates in the knockout stages.



Goalkeepers | Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union, USA), Coniah Boyce-Clarke (Reading, England), Shaquan Davis (Mount Pleasant FC, Jamaica), Jahmali Waite (El Paso Locomotive, USA)

Defenders | Amari’i Bell (Luton Town, England), Jon Bell (Seattle Sounders FC, USA), Di’Shon Bernard (Sheffield Wednesday, England), Wesley Harding (Millwall, England), Michael Hector (unattached), Richard King (Cavalier SC, Jamaica), Greg Leigh (Oxford United, England), Dexter Lembikisa (Wolves, on loan at Hearts in Scotland), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union, USA), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford, England)

Midfielders | Karoy Anderson (Charlton Athletic, England), Bobby Decordova-Reid (Fulham, England), Kevon Lambert (Real Salt Lake, on loan at San Antonio FC in USA), Alex Marshall (Portmore United, Jamaica), Kasey Palmer (Coventry City, England), Joel Latibeaudiere (Coventry City, England)

Strikers | Michail Antonio (West Ham United, England), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa, England), Renaldo Cephas (Ankaragucu, Turkey), Kaheim Dixon (Arnett Gardens FC, Jamaica), Demarai Gray (Al-Ettifaq, Saudi Arabia), Shamar Nicholson (Spartak Moscow, on loan at Clermont, France)


22 June | Mexico (NRG Stadium, Houston, USA)
26 June | Ecuador (Allegiant Stadium, Paradise, USA)
30 June | Venezuela (Q2 Stadium, Austin, USA)

GROUP A | Argentina, Chile, Peru, Chile
GROUP B | Mexico, Ecuador, Venezuela, Jamaica
GROUP C | Uruguay, USA, Bolivia, Panama
GROUP D | Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Costa Rica

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