Jamaicans deserve to know what went wrong

Jamaicans deserve to know what went wrong

Saturday, August 03, 2019

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It seems to us that, at the very least, there should be a formal inquiry as to what has gone wrong with Jamaica's Under-23 football squad.

It's not just that the national Under-23s left most football watchers stunned by falling at the first hurdle of Olympic qualifiers on home soil — topped by St Kitts & Nevis in a group which also included Dominica.

And, while disappointed, we are not unduly perturbed by defeat to Honduras and Uruguay in the ongoing Pan American Games in Peru.

The aspect which has left this newspaper most concerned is the pronouncement by Coach Mr Donovan Duckie that his team — considered by observers to be highly talented — was physically unprepared for competitive football.

Said Mr Duckie: “This is the worst physically prepared team I have ever seen in my entire life for over 22 years that I have coached. This is the worst-conditioned team that I have ever seen. We cannot play competitively for more than 60 minutes in any game; hence, these are the results and they are not desirable.”

Mr Duckie went even further: “When I took the job (as coach) there (were) certain conditionalities... One was for the JFF [Jamaica Football Federation] to provide a physical trainer, [and] for over eight months a physical trainer has only come to our training session for three days.”

It would be useful to know what steps Mr Duckie took to seek corrective action. Surely, he must have complained to those responsible for ensuring the presence of a physical trainer. What happened then?

We await word from those in charge of the football programme, including President Michael Ricketts, General Secretary Dalton Wint and Technical Director Wendell Downswell.

We are aware that resources are always short in football, as indeed for just about every other sport in Jamaica. However, we do believe the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) must be particularly disappointed having provided funds earlier to assist with staff salaries for the Under-23 programme.

There are other aspects of this whole affair which are worrying.

For example, we note a comment from Mr Ricketts following drawn results against St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominca, that: “To say I'm disappointed with the result is certainly an understatement, because I really think that we have real quality players, and for us to draw with Dominica, and again draw with St Kitts and Nevis, it is indeed extremely disappointing.”

On the face of it, Mr Ricketts's comment may sound reasonable. However, it's a matter of record that three years ago, in the Dominican Republic, the St Kitts & Nevis Under-20 team, with a number of players who have now gone on to the current Under-23 team, defeated Jamaica 2-0, effectively knocking them out of a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) qualifying tournament. Back then, the reporter representing this newspaper described defeat for Jamaica Under-20s as “deserved”.

Like St Kitts & Nevis, a number of young players now with the Jamaica Under-23 team were part of that vanquished Under-20 team.

In other words, there was no basis for those in charge to underestimate opponents in the recent Olympic qualifiers. As Mr Duckie quite rightly said recently, opponents should never be underestimated.

We await word from the JFF on this very troubling episode.

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