Sport

The ball's now in our court, says Burrell

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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DESPITE the cost of tickets and early showers, thousands turned out to support the Reggae Boyz in their World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium on Friday.

They were rewarded with Jamaica's first victory over their northern neighbours in 21 outings, and local football boss Captain Horace Burrell is over the moon.

"I'm elated... that we've been able to break this jinx, which obviously has been around and has affected us for so many years," Burrell told the Jamaica Observer a few hours after the historic win.

"In order to go forward we had to get the 'monkey' off our back. We have now gotten rid of it and from here on, I would say the ball is in our court," he said.

He said the financial power behind Friday's opponents makes them a major force and therefore, the team to beat.

"The United States is a big team and they always have the resources to advance their technical programme," he said. "However, the little country we are, the people we are... certainly, we had to break this jinx and having now broken it, the sky is the limit."

In justifying the famous victory, Burrell said: "We have a group of players who are hungry. They're determined and... are all professionals. Technically, our players are now at the highest level. Most of our players are in professional leagues... and that will give them an opportunity to advance their... capabilities."

Burrell promised Jamaicans even better as the semi-final round of qualifying progresses.

"I can assure the fans that we will have some exciting encounters and it will even get better."

He was also happy for the support despite the hike in ticket prices and the rain.

"Since our qualification in 1998, I think it's safe to say this is the biggest support that we've gotten... If it's anything to go by, I'm very, very encouraged and... hopeful that we'll continue to do well and reach the last round," Burrell said.

He added: "The crowd were in fact the 12th man the coaching staff has been asking for. It was not only the team that won, but our people won and I raise my hat to them."

While happy with the level of support, Burrell was, however, a bit disturbed by 'over-exuberant' fans who invaded the pitch after the game. He noted that such behaviour is not tolerated by world governing body FIFA and hoped there would be no such recurrence.

"Our fans must realise that... we require their co-operation by not coming from the Bleachers across to the Grandstand. In football it's not allowed and will go against us.

"I think with a little bit of education that can be corrected. It is a no-no and will not be allowed. We can't celebrate in that manner," he concluded.

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