Sport

Tappa targets foreign players for WC qualifiers

BY SEAN A WILLIAMS Assistant Sport Editor

Sunday, September 11, 2011    

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REGGAE Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore says he wants to head off any popular perception that the team is barring integration of United Kingdom-born players into its ranks, insisting that the door remains open for all.

The former national midfielder said as he explores all avenues to broaden the player pool ahead of the World Cup qualifying tournament next year, he will be inviting a number of these players for friendly internationals.

"We've been scouting a few England-born professionals over the past few months and are hoping to invite a few for the upcoming FIFA dates," Whitmore told the Sunday Observer on Friday.

With four defeats on the trot -- 0-2 to USA in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, 0-1 to China, 2-5 to Ecuador and 0-2 to Colombia in friendly internationals -- he expressed disappointment in the attitude of some players and vowed to explore new talent opportunities as part of the ongoing process. UK-born players, he noted, were always in the equation.

"In the past we have experienced a positive impact from some of these players and it's our hope that this would be the case again," he said.

Whitmore, whose two wonder goals gave Jamaica a 2-1 win over Japan at the 1998 World Cup, warned all foreign-bred prospects that the mere fact that they play for clubs in respectable leagues is not an automatic criterion for selection.

"Any new talent must have the capacity to integrate into the team both on and off the pitch. This is very important for chemistry, team spirit, tactical and technical compatibility," Whitmore added.

Jamaica benefited tremendously from the inclusion of a number of England-born professionals at the height of a World Cup qualifying campaign masterfully crafted by the Brazilian Rene Simoes.

Those Englishmen were thought to have brought "professionalism and discipline" to a rag-tag bunch of Jamaican players equipped with nothing but raw talent, of which Whitmore was one.

But Jamaica's football has come a long way since.

"We have seen great improvement in professional attitude and discipline in the main from home grown talent now plying their trade overseas. Some have even shown improvement in tactical awareness and discipline and a better understanding of the game generally," explained Whitmore.

The relatively young but ever learning coach also warned any player born and bred overseas should not come expecting special treatment.

"It is very important to make the point that the treatment offered by the Federation for foreign-based players must not defer to what is provided to our home grown talent... we are one team with common goals, therefore the foreign grown Jamaican talent must be able to endure the conditions all other members of the team are subjected," noted Whitmore in a no-nonsense tone.

Meanwhile, the Jamaica football Federation (JFF) says it embraces one fundamental policy when it comes to scouting talent, and that is to "have the best available local or foreign" at all times.

"Therefore, we have no reservations on England-born or other European-born players of Jamaican descent representing the country, providing that the talent is better than what exist here in Jamaica and can fit into the unit without creating instability and disharmony... and can enhance the capacity of the team and programme," said JFF general secretary, Horace Reid.

Reid said as a first step he would like all players wishing to represent the country to procure documentation to establish their eligibility and the Federation will then assist them with ultimately securing the Jamaican passport, which is a FIFA requirement.

Some England-born and bred players that have come through the Boyz ranks through the years are Deon Burton, Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson, Robbie Earle, Micah Hyde, Frank Sinclair, Jamie Lawrence, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Marlon King, Daryl Powell, Marcus Gayle, Darren Moore, Jason Euell, Darren Byfield, Kevin Lisbie, Barry Hayles, Richard Langley and Trevor Benjamin.

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