...But militant JFF boss hints there could be other casualties
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Head coach of Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore has been given the nod of approval by Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Captain Horace Burrell despite the failure at the recent Caribbean Football Union Caribbean Championships in Antigua and Barbuda.
Jamaica, who had won the previous two championships and went into the competition as red-hot favourites on the back of their qualification for the CONCACAF final round of the World Cup Qualification, failed to win a game, only earning one point from three games from a draw and two losses to crash out in the first round.
Since the dismal performance speculations had been rife about the future of the technical staff, but Burrell in his usual emphatic style said on Thursday that Whitmore's job was not on the line.
While addressing the graduation ceremony of the JMMB/JFF/UTech Coaching School cohort 13 at the Montego Bay Civic Centre, Burrell, who had just returned to the country hours earlier, said: "I want to make one point categorically clear and that is insofar as the head coach Mr 'Tappa' Whitmore is concerned, Mr Whitmore will keep his job", to a spontaneous round of applause.
The JFF boss said in the short time back he had been "bombarded with telephone calls from all over wanting to know what is going to happen, who is going to remain in the programme, etc. He, however, did not rule out actions against other members of the delegation that travelled to the Eastern Caribbean.
"As it relates to the other personnel, we will await the report and at a later date we will have more to say," Burrell said, but refused to go into any details when pressed by the Jamaica Observer afterwards.
"I will not be making any further comments," he said. "I have spoken to the chairman and have not reviewed the report, but remember I was in Antigua," Burrell added.
During his presentation, Burrell had said he had instructed the technical committee of the JFF to do an in-depth analysis of the performance of the team, and stemming from that report "we will examine... and I will have discussions with the board of directors and then we go forward".
Additionally, he did not want to get into any predictions as to what time frame before a decision will be made. "We have to do it properly, as soon as possible, no rush to judgement but within the shortest possible time."
Whitmore, who was at the event, said while it was good to get the thumbs up from the Captain, he was not worried about being axed.
"I have never been worried about losing a job as once you can be hired you can also be fired," Whitmore said. "Based on what I have done so far the record speaks for itself, so I was not worried by the Captain or the Federation. Yes, it's good to hear this from Captain as there has always been speculation and he just made it clear," said the France 1998 World Cup star.
Whitmore agreed that the match in Antigua was "a very disappointing performance", but also said, "we have to look at the bigger picture going forward to the World Cup Qualification".
"We want to do what we needed to do to get everything right going into the qualifications as we have no room for mistakes," he noted.
Burrell had described the performance of the team in Antigua as "way below par" and "rather embarrassing".
Moving forward, however, Burrell said: "We cannot sit and pity ourselves, we have got to get on with the tasks; we have got to put all of that behind us and take the necessary corrective actions and continue on our quest to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and beyond."
The failure in Antigua, Burrell admitted, will affect the programme, noting further that things will have to change.
"I have also made the point that it cannot be business as usual because when our team performs as poorly in the way we did in Antigua it affects so many other areas.
"It affects our ability to get funds, it affects our rankings, it affects our ability to attract better teams and it also stifles opportunities which would normally be available to us," said the JFF president.