JFF needs to think, prepare and execute better


JFF needs to think, prepare and execute better

Saturday, January 04, 2020

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In Lyon, France, at the 1998 FIFA World Cup Jamaican football had arguably its greatest result.

Led by two gorgeous goals from talismanic midfielder Mr Theodore Whitmore, the Reggae Boyz defeated fellow senior World Cup debutants Japan 2-1, to end their campaign on a high.

There are those who will argue that simply qualifying for the World Cup finals was a greater achievement. But for many others, that triumph in Lyon became the signature moment for Jamaican football.

For those who remember the '98 campaign, it is disheartening that Jamaica — plagued by inadequate resources and leadership — have failed, since, to make it to a World Cup finals.

It's largely testament to the vast resources at their disposal that Japan, a country of about 125 million people and among the globe's wealthiest, has been to every senior FIFA World Cup since '98, and is now considered a leading football-playing nation.

Japan also has a well-earned reputation for organisation and careful planning — contributing to its remarkable recovery following the devastation of World War II and also, of course, to the growth of its football.

It's against that backdrop that we believe the recent 0-9 drubbing of a Jamaica national age-group squad by the Japan Olympic squad in Nagasaki in late December should be viewed.

While the Japanese have been preparing for a long time for the Olympic Games in their own country later this year, their Jamaican opponents were shockingly knocked out of qualifiers on home soil by St Kitts and Nevis in mid-2019. Readers may recall that back then, team coach Mr Donovan Duckie described his charges as “the worst physically prepared team I have ever seen in my entire life for over 22 years that I have coached”. And, until they were hastily called up late last year by national head coach, Mr Whitmore, to prepare for the trip to Japan, the players had not assembled as a national squad.

We won't join those suggesting that the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) should have rejected the free-of-cost opportunity to expose young players to international competition purely because of the likelihood of defeat.

However, we are bothered by obvious inadequacies in preparation. We hear that after travelling for two days across datelines — which for some people trigger serious disorientation — the Jamaica squad arrived in Nagasaki just two days ahead of the game.

That's inadequate, especially since Japan is located in the far northern hemisphere, at the height of winter. We hear that on the day of the game temperatures were at low single digits. That's only to be expected. However, for local-based players, such cold conditions — given the limited acclimatisation — would have been well nigh intolerable.

We hope that talk we are hearing, that the tour party was surprised by, and inadequately geared for, the cold weather, is false.

In the circumstances, it seems to us that the JFF should have requested — at the very least — that their squad be accommodated a week ahead of time to allow some amount of acclimatisation. If their Japanese hosts could not agree to that, the invitation should have been respectfully declined.

Lack of resources and a debilitating, amateurish environment adversely affect Jamaica's football. But this newspaper believes much more could be achieved if the nation's football leaders start thinking, planning, organising and executing with a much higher level of method and professionalism.

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