German-born in Tappa's 26-man squad for Bahamas camp
The Reggae Boyz' Preparation for their trio of World Cup qualifying matches in the month of June will pick up pace with the staging of a 12-day camp in the Bahamas beginning today.
The Boyz host Mexico on June 4, the United States on June 7 and play away to Honduras on June 11 in a crucial eight days which could go a long way in determining their World Cup qualifying fate. To sharpen themselves up for these games they will play against top English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspurs on May 23 before tackling the Bahamas on May 31.
With a fairly strong home-based component leaving on Monday, the group includes the ever-present Leeds United midfielder Rodolph Austin, Sheffield Wednesday's Jermaine Johnson, Darren Mattocks of the Vancouver Whitecaps, former national youth goalkeeper and University of Connecticut glove man Andre Blake and midfielder Daniel Gordon of Karlsruher SC in Germany who is joining the group for the first time.
The group will be joined in the Bahamas by European and American-based players Jobi McAnuff, Adrian Mariappa, Garath McLeary, Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson, Dwayne Miller, Theo Robinson, Marvin Elliott, Dane Richards, Demar Phillips and Jermaine Beckford. All members of the group will be in camp by May 30 where they will remain until June 2 when the entire group travels to Jamaica for the home-based qualifiers.
"What we have assembled is a very competitive group of players ahead of perhaps our most important run in this campaign," head coach Theodore Whitmore said of the group.
"If you notice we have included players who have been a part of the squad for some time but who were not involved recently. As I have always said the door is not closed on any one and as soon as the time was right players would have had the chance to prove themselves," explained Whitmore who made his name as a magical midfielder for Jamaica in the country's historic qualification for the 1998 World Cup in France.
"Our supporters have been calling for people like Mattocks because we have not scored a lot of goals so he will have an opportunity to show what he can produce. Others such as O'Brian Woodbine and Evan Taylor were involved in World Cup qualifiers from as far back as 2008 for the 2010 campaign so we are having another look at them as the opportunity is there for them to perform and break in. Damion Williams did well for us in our last Gold Cup in midfield so this gives us another opportunity to look at him. In fact it is a big opportunity for all the local-based players to show that they belong," added Whitmore.
Besides the local-based players, most eyes will be focused on the Germany-born utility player Gordon, who stands at a shade under 6' 5" .
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to spend some time working with the players as we get ready for these games. Time is something that we have never really had before with this group so we are really happy for that. The only disappointment with this is that we could not have had the entire group for longer but we understand how it is and this situation is not unique to us. We just have to and will make the best of it," said coach Whitmore.
SQUAD: Alvas Powell, Xavian Virgo, Jermaine Hue, Richard McCallum, O'Brian Woodbine, Damian Williams, Montrose Phinn, Jermie Lynch, Evan Taylor, Jermaine Johnson, Keammar Daley, Andre Blake, Daniel Gordon, Darren Mattocks, Rodolph Austin, Jobi McAnuff, Adrian Mariappa, Garath McLeary, Donovan Ricketts, Dwayne Miller, Theo Robinson, Marvin Elliott, Dane Richards, Demar Phillips, Ryan Johnson and Jermaine Beckford.
Jamaica's senior team coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore (left) gives instructions to midffielder Jermaine Hue in a recent training session ahead of a World Cup qualifying match.