Editorial

Striking the balance key to Reggae Boyz success

Saturday, November 23, 2019

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Those who remember well Jamaica's qualification for the 1998 Fifa World Cup in France won't argue with this newspaper's position that football is very much a young man's game.

Back in the late 1990s, players in their early to mid-20s made up the majority of the Rene Simoes-coached squad which made Jamaicans so proud.

Of course, there was also aged wisdom personified in senior pro, the late Mr Peter Cargill, then approaching his mid-30s.

But for the most part, that was a squad brimful of youthful energy.

No wonder then, that current coach Mr Theodore Whitmore, who was at the apex of the Jamaican midfield back in those glory days, is actively seeking fresh, young talent ahead of Concacaf World Cup qualifiers next year.

We are told that Mr Whitmore will be in charge of a Jamaica Under-22 team set to face Japanese age-group counterparts on December 28 in Japan.

Mr Whitmore has been reported as saying “there will always be opportunities for emerging talent”.

And further that he and his technical staff “will need to use competitions available, to test, grow and develop players”.

In that respect we would suggest the ongoing schoolboy football competition now approaching its final stages can't be ignored as a possible pool from which to draw.

We remember well Mr Simoes drafting then teenager Mr Ricardo Gardner from schoolboy competition in the late '90s. As the saying goes, the rest is history.

We are at one with Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Mr Michael Ricketts that having achieved short-term objectives by topping their group in the Concacaf Nation's League gaining promotion and also qualifying automatically to the Concacaf Gold Cup the Reggae Boyz dare not rest.

“It's a job well done... we had set out these targets and we have attained them and now the next hurdle is to get into the Hexagonal round for World Cup qualification,” says Mr Ricketts.

The top-six teams in Concacaf at the end of June 2020 will qualify for the play-offs for the Fifa World Cup and Ricketts said Jamaica was on course.

“We are on the path to doing that, but we must make sure we maintain our top-six position in Concacaf, and once we do that, when the 'Hex' starts next year we would be in,” said the JFF boss.

As the situation now stands, the Reggae Boyz are ranked 45th by Fifa, third in Concacaf behind the USA and Mexico and ahead of Costa Rica, Honduras, and Canada.

If they can maintain their top-six position up to June next year, it will mean a clear shot at one of the three guaranteed places for Concacaf nations at the next Fifa World Cup.

That's why Mr Ricketts is apparently nervous about maintaining a “balance” in terms of the opposition the Reggae Boyz will go up against in Friendly Internationals leading up to mid-2020.

“...we are caught between a rock and a hard place and we have to navigate ourselves through,” he says.

We expect the leadership of the JFF will be leaning heavily on the the expertise of Mr Whitmore and the wider technical staff in achieving that balance.

We wish them well.


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