Boyz vs South Korea

JFF boss to sign contract today for friendly set for Turkey January 31

Deputy sport editor

Monday, January 08, 2018

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Jamaica's Reggae Boyz will start the new year with a bang of sorts when they face World Cup-bound South Korea in a friendly international in Turkey at month end.

The match between the 54th-ranked Jamaica and the 60th-positioned South Korea will be played on Wednesday, January 31, in the resort Mediterranean city of Antalya. Other details of the game are expected to be available soon.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts welcomed the game, adding that the South Koreans were the first to reach out from “nine or 10 countries” that were contacted.

“Among the World Cup-bound countries we wrote to, we got responses from Germany and England, but they unfortunately wrote back to us to say that they had already set up their schedules for practice games.

“But we were always hopeful that we would get responses from some of these countries, and the first to respond was South Korea (and) though we have not yet signed the deal, the contract is on my desk at the JFF and we will sign off on that tomorrow (today),” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Ricketts, just a few short months in his tenure as JFF boss after victory at the presidential polls, noted that the South Koreans were very receptive to their gesture even though the fixture would fall outside FIFA calendar, which means both nations would unlikey get their top overseas professionals, especially those in the height of their season in Europe.

“We wanted to hit the ground running in the new year, and the good thing was that South Korea didn't matter whether it (the game) was inside or outside the window, and so we grabbed the opportunity with both hands,” Ricketts said.

The JFF head says that the decision to stage the match in Turkey, which geographically straddles Asia and Europe, was entrenched in a request from the Turkey Football Association to have the game on their home soil to give clubs the opportunity to look at Jamaica's stock of players with the aim of possibly signing a couple of them.

“What I know is that the Turkey association was interested in looking at some of our young players... and having discussions with South Korea, we did mention that and they (South Korea) decided that they had no problems playing the game in Turkey.

“Some of the top Turkish clubs want to see what we have to offer in terms of young talent, and a match against a local Turkish club on Sunday, January 28 is expected to be a part of the arrangement,” Ricketts explained.

The contingent is expected to depart the island on Wednesday, January 24.

Ricketts expressed confidence that the technical staff will craft the strongest possible aquad for the encounter.

“I spoke with coach (Theodore) Whitmore this morning, and what I do know is that a strong a team as is possible will be assembled for this game. I have left the composition of the team up to the technical staff, but I am absolutely sure that we will get a good squad heading into Turkey on the 24th,” he told the Observer last evening.

Ricketts said he intends to drive an aggressive programme to keep the senior Boyz active leading into the start of CONCACAF's new development tournament called the League of Nations, which gets underway in the summer.

“We have been having daily discussions with our agent (Winston Clarke) out of England and we continue to impress upon him the importance of getting games leading up to the start of the League of Nations as we want to be prepared for that competition when it starts in September,” said the Clarendon native.

Aleady, Ricketts disclosed, that talks for a home game for the Boyz are advanced and an official announcement should be forthcoming in short order.

“In fact we are negotiating with one of our Caribbean neighbours to have a local game round about March during the FIFA window, so we are working quietly, but effectively and exploring all feasible possibilities for our teams,” he said.

“Jamaica as a football brand continues to make an impact out there and our exploits at the CONCACAF Gold Cup going all the way to the final last year has made us attractive to other countries, so with that and our improved ranking, we have some capital when we sit to negotiate,” Ricketts ended.

South Korea, who defeated Jamaica 3-0 in a friendly in Seoul in October of 2015, will contest Group F of Russia this year against giants Germany, Mexico and Sweden.

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