Sport

We made mistakes'

BY SEAN WILLIAMS ASSISTANT SPORT EDITOR

Thursday, December 05, 2013    

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If Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner has an opinion about football, it makes good sense to listen.

After all, he has played the game at the highest level and has a wealth of knowledge gathered by his vast experience.

So when he offered "we should all take responsibility" for Jamaica's failed Brazil 2014 World Cup bid, the statement should be taken seriously.

"To be honest with you, I think we made a lot of mistakes and it's no individual person; it's from the top come right down; we are all in it together," said Gardner, who appeared for Jamaica at the France 1998 World Cup as a 17-year-old.

Not wanting to go into specifics and the name-calling game, the former Bolton Wanderers star preferred to speak in general terms.

But he did not seem opposed to the popular view that the Mission to Rio campaign was thwarted by poor planning, unsound team selection, lack of preparedness, general commitment and a sense of mission in pursuit of the goal.

Gardner, 33, suggests that the nation must learn important lessons from past mistakes and plot a more sustainable path forward in achieving the shared goals of the football product.

"We now need to learn from our mistakes and put things in place and stick with the plan.

"We have to work together as a team and not be working in different departments because we are here to achieve one goal, and that is to take this football from one level to another level," said the former Reggae Boyz captain.

Gardner warned that a crash programme approach will not develop the football at the rate it ought to, but recommended that the football leaders have to be visionary and pragmatic if success is going to be the name of the game.

"It can't be that we are planning from one World Cup campaign to another, but we need to give the programme that opportunity to qualify for one World Cup after another.

"We need to set that infrastructure in place where there is a sustainable programme, part of which should be that if a set of players is going to retire, there will be others to take over," he added.

Gardner, who was capped some 99 times for Jamaica's senior team, said team building ought to be a crucial plank in the pursuit of World Cup qualification and should be considered critical to the overall technical structure.

"You can't just jump and pick a team and expect that they will just qualify like that. The players need time to build, they need chemistry.

"As we know already, the talent is out there, but we have to just go out there and look, as it is not just going to come to us like that.

"We must also mix that young talent with the more experienced ones who are still capable of doing a job," argued Gardner.

Jamaica finished the CONCACAF final round at the bottom of the six-nation point standings. The United States, Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico have qualified for Brazil 2014 from CONCACAF.

Meanwhile, the explosive left-sided player said he is of the view he could have contributed to the last World Cup campaign. However, he was overlooked by his former teammate Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, who was the coach at the time.

"Yes, I think I could have played a part, but unfortunately that wasn't to be. However, I have no hard feelings as I still support my country 100 per cent and whatever decisions the coaches have to make, they made them and now we just need to learn and move on."

Gardner, who remains optimistic in finding a club to continue his professional career after he was released by Bolton after 14 years, said when he finally hangs up his boots a career in coaching could be on the cards.

"Why not? If I prepare myself the right way and the opportunity comes along, then I will grab it," he said.

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