'Tappa' explains late shake-up in player ranks ahead of T&T friendly

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

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Former schoolboy football standout Jamiel Hardware was a virtual last-minute replacement for midfielder Jamie Robinson as Theodore Whitmore's Reggae Boyz squad left for Trinidad and Tobago yesterday.

The Jamaicans are set to face their Caribbean rivals in a friendly international at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Thursday. Kick-off is slated for 6:00 pm (Jamaica time).

Head Coach Whitmore said Robinson's lack of pre-season preparation with his club was the reason for withdrawing him.

“Jamie has not started preseason with his club so that made no sense. I have to stick to what I believe in and what the federation is trying to do. If we are going to take Jamie, then we are going to send the wrong message to players,” Whitmore explained to the Jamaica Observer.

Only days ago veteran Jermaine 'Teddy' Johnson had been drafted in to fill the void after Shawn Genius had to pull out of the squad due to school engagement.

“We already know what 'Teddy' brings to the team, so what we had wanted to do was to give other players opportunity. Shawn Genius was one of those players, but he has left for college so we turned to Jermaine Johnson,” Whitmore, a former Reggae Boyz star, said.

Thursday's friendly international provides useful practice for both teams.

Trinidad and Tobago are preparing for the resumption of the Hexagonal Round of the 2018 Russia World Cup football-qualifying campaign. Their next encounters are against Central American outfits Honduras and Panama in September.

The Jamaicans are not in 2018 FIFA World Cup contention, but with this present squad comprising local-based players, fringe members have the chance to stake their claim as Whitmore plots the path ahead.

Whitmore's Reggae Boyz, comprising locally bred players, were surprise second-placed finishers at the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier this summer in the United States.

In 2015, Jamaica – guided by German Winfried Schaefer - had also finished second in the Gold Cup; however, most of the leading members of that squad were British-born. Somewhat tainting that achievement, Jamaica crashed out of qualification for next year's football showpiece.

The recent Gold Cup success is a platform Whitmore hopes to build on as the nation looks toward qualification for the 2022 World Cup.

“My personal thought is that we overachieved in the Gold Cup, but what we don't want to do is sway away. In 2015 we were in a similar position and we did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup. What we don't want to do is make the same mistake, so we have to think about how we can progress,” Whitmore said.

“We have to think about how we can move forward to make Jamaica's football more successful so we can compete against the Central and North Americans. My goal is always the long term goal; not the small picture. And for me the long-terms is 2022, which is our next [chance to qualify for a] World Cup,” added the Jamaican head coach.

Squad- Amal Knight, Shaven Paul, Jamiel Hardware, Ladale Richie, Javain Brown, Rosario Harriott, Alex Marshall, Kaheem Parris, Jermaine Johnson, Marvin Morgan, Vishinul Harris, Fabian Reid, Leonardo Rankine, Shamar Nicholas, Michael Binns, Ewan Grandison, Ricardo Morris, Rondee Smith.

Officials — Michael Ricketts (head of delegation), Theodore Whitmore (head coach), Jerome Waite (assistant coach), Warren Barrett (goalkeeper coach), Lamar Morgan (physical trainer), Roy Simpson (team manager), Norman Stone (equipment manager).

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