VIRGINIA, USA — Former captain Shavar Thomas has lost none of his commitment to play for his country despite being out of the national setup for close to eight months.
The 31-year-old central defender, who last represented the country in November, 2011 in a 1-2 loss to Honduras, was part of a 19-man squad participated in a friendly international against El Salvador at the RFK Stadium last night.
"Me being here is an opportunity to give a good showing of what I can do so that I can be in the plans for the upcoming qualifier. I am not looking any further. One is as good as the last game," said Thomas who now represents Montreal Impact in the US Major League Soccer.
Thomas, who made his senior team debut as a teenager, has never been shy about competing for his position and is willing to continue in that vein.
"The squad has a great balance of youth and experience and I am ready to fight for my place and go into battle for my country as we seek to strengthen our position in the World Cup qualification in this our 50th year of Independence," Thomas said adding that he would want to assist in giving the country a special present this year, helping Jamaica to beat the United States' senior team for the first time ever in a football game.
Beating the United States is something that Thomas believes is well within the reach of the current squad's grasp when the two meet in Kingston on September 7 and four days later in Ohio.
"We have what it takes to beat the USA," said the man who captained Jamaica's Under-20 team to the 2001 Under-20 World Cup in Argentina.
"If you look at the last time we played the USA in the Gold Cup quarter-finals in 2011, it would have been a different game had we made use of our chances. We had chances to score and did not and ended up losing 0-2.
"Against teams like the USA when you get your chances you have to put them away and not make any mistakes or you will be punished," he explained.
But before that can be done, Thomas said that himself as an individual and the team will have to make improvements.
"I saw highlights of the Guatemala game and highlights of the Panama game, but I did not see anything of the Antigua game. My impression of those games is that as good as we are, there are still things that we need to improve on.
"I think we were not as cohesive as we could have been but with time and more matches like this one against El Salvador and the one against Kenya to come, we could develop the understanding and the cohesion that will be required to beat them," said the man who was a standout at the University of Connecticut.