Sport

Boyz set to play Antigua on March 24

...JFF claims it's pursuing other matches ahead of League of Nations start

Sunday, February 25, 2018

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Jamaica are set to play a series of friendlies against Caribbean neighbours as they prepare for the new CONCACAF League of Nations tournament, which kicks off this September.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts made the announcement at a joint press conference with Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) at the federation's offices in New Kingston on Friday.

Both organisations have announced an agreement and partnership where the JOA will providing financial assistance to the nation's football governing body to help build an Under-23 programme, with aim of qualifying Jamaica for the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

Ricketts disclosed that a deal has been agreed on for the senior Reggae Boyz to take on Caribbean outfit Antigua and Barbuda at National Stadium in Kingston next month.

“Just this morning (Friday) we have signed a contractual arrangement with Antigua for a local game to be played on March 25 in Kingston. We would have had a number of challenges, as a particular team wanted to play us on the 24th, but they have a game against the USA on the 27th, but they could not play us later than the 24th,” he revealed.

The extremely popular high school track and field event popularly referred to as “Champs” scuppered the plans to engage the originally courted team, which resulted in Antigua becoming the alternative fixture.

“The 24th of March is the last day of Champs and we thought that it would not have been a good thing to compete with Champs on the last day of that event. So we had to forego that, and we have actually signed with Antigua,” Ricketts explained.

The negotiations to get quality competition for the team, Ricketts noted, were not limited to just one team.

“We were negotiating with a number of other teams, but for different reasons we actually ended up with Antigua. We will actually play a number of Caribbean teams leading up to the League of Nations tournament, which will start in September,” said the JFF head.

The new CONCACAF League of Nations, which will redefine the qualification process to all major confederation tournaments and the World Cup, will have its official launch in Miami on Wednesday, March 7.

“The Jamaica Football Federation is intent on ensuring that we go into that competition well prepared. So we will be playing a number of Caribbean countries which means that more than likely we will be playing teams in the League of Nations. We start with Antigua. We are negotiating with Antigua again for a game in Antigua, St Kitts, Grenada, Haiti and a number of other countries, and of course we will be looking forward to playing other teams that will be participating in the upcoming World Cup,” Ricketts disclosed.

Jamaica's last friendly international was against World Cup-bound South Korea in Antalya, Turkey, on January 30. That game ended 2-2, which aided the Boyz' jump in the FIFA rankings to a respectable 50th.

— Dwayne Richards

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