Hanging tough when the going gets rough

Saturday, October 20, 2012    

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Among the lessons learnt from Jamaica's final game of the CONCACAF semi-final qualifying campaign on Tuesday night is that 15 years after their team qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, many, if not most local fans, remain 'weak hearted'.

They are fully on board when things go right, but are quick to jump off the wagon when disappointment threatens.

The Reggae Boyz entered the game needing to beat Antigua and Barbuda by three clear goals, while hoping that the USA and Guatemala would not play to a draw in their contest at the same time in Kansas City.

The odds were good that, though the national team had dug themselves a hole by losing away games to the USA and Guatemala, they still retained a good chance of qualifying.

If ever there was need for the proverbial 'twelfth man', constituting a large crowd of gold-clad Jamaicans in the National Stadium to cheer on their team, this was it. Instead, there were more empty seats than those taken in the stadium.

As it turned out, all went well. The cream rose to the top in both Kingston and Kansas City with the Reggae Boyz producing a stylish, if less than efficient, performance to beat gutsy Antigua and Barbuda 4-1, while the USA beat Guatemala 3-1.

We don't need to be rocket scientists to know that the final round of qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will be very, very tough. Jamaica and the United States apart, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Panama will be contesting this final round of six.

After 10 home and away games for each team, the top three will be off to Brazil. The fourth placed team will also have a chance — vying for a spot with the winner of the Oceania Group.

As we have said, it will be tough. Yet we believe the quality is there from which coach Mr Theodore Whitmore and his staff can mould a squad with the self-belief and ability to win their home games and take enough points in away games to qualify. This newspaper believes that what Mr Whitmore and his team will need are the financial and material resources to conduct a successful campaign.

We join the outgoing general secretary of the Jamaica Football federation (JFF), Mr Horace Reid, and the president of the JFF, Captain Horace Burrell, in the belief that corporate Jamaica will now step up support despite the hard times.

As our business leaders can attest from their experience down the years, sporting success builds Brand Jamaica like nothing else can.

Hopefully too, the fan base will find the strength to stay firmly behind their team as the 'twelfth man', even when the going gets tough.





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