SEAN WILLIAMS In Columbus, Ohio, for the WORLD CUP QUALIFIER WORLD CUP QUALIFIER Jamaica Vs USA
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Reggae Boyz's historic win over the USA in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium on Friday has the potential to boost the national programme and change attitudes toward it, says a high-ranking official.
Horace Reid, general secretary of the governing Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), says the victory in itself could yield specific benefits to the 'Mission To Rio' campaign.
"This is a great fillip for the 2014 Brazil campaign and one that will give great confidence to not only the players and technical staff, but importantly, the general public and corporate Jamaica," Reid said here on Monday.
Also, the victory — the first-ever by Jamaica over the USA at the senior level in 21 meetings — was a gift to the people of Jamaica at a time when they celebrated 50 years of political independence.
"This result, and indeed the performance, could not have come at a better time. It is the country's 50th year of Independence and the entire nation would have been very pleased and very proud," said Reid, a long-serving member of the JFF.
In a calculated performance which saw them recovering from a first-minute goal to win 2-1 over the CONCACAF giants, Reid thought the important 12th man played a critical role in inspiring the Boyz to an unprecedented triumph.
"I'm very convinced that the support we received from the public on Friday, including the many fans who turned out to cheer and inspire the Boyz, was the 12th man we have missed in many moons.
"One gets goose pimples listening to the comments of the players on this point. They were really inspired by the fans that turned out and the positive way they supported," he said from the team's hotel as it prepared for the return-leg against the USA, which was due to be played last night at the Columbus Crew Stadium.
There were an estimated 23,000 people inside the National Stadium on Friday night, a throng that ignited the Boyz to rally from a Clint Dempsey first-minute goal to score two of their own. England-based Rodolph Austin (23rd minute) and Luton Shelton (62nd) scored priceless goals to put the trimmings on a solid Jamaican rendition.
And as the country basks in the euphoria of the victory, Reid warned that it's early days along the road to Brazil 2014 and will provide challenges.
"There will be many more twists and turns in the campaign. However, we should never lose hope. Getting to the 'promised land' was never going to be easy. Most important for us is that the players and staff believe," he noted.
The veteran adminstrator says there is great optimism in this team doing well and making it to Brazil, a confidence fuelled in part by a keen commitment of the key players across all areas.
"They have always believed. They have great confidence in each other and their clarity of thought and genuine affection for the group have been intangibles that are very under-rated. Once the support continues, the best is still to come. This team can play better with the right support," Reid argued.
With the current crop of players and the Theodore Whitmore-led technical team, the JFF executive believes the sky is the limit as the Boyz continue their march towards Brazil.