Ricketts deems Turkey tour a success

...JFF president hails 'young' Boyz for mental fortitude, revels in draw with South Korea

Deputy Sport Editor

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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ANTALYA, Turkey — Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) p resident Michael “Mike” Ricketts has deemed the senior Reggae Boyz's recent tour of Turkey a success.

He says he believes the team of mainly local-based players, including a number of debutantes, displayed heart in “trying conditions” and against a tough opponent in World Cup-destined South Korea.

Against the Asian giants, the Boyz came out with a 2-2 draw, while they ended 1-1 against Romanian club CS Gaz Metan Medias in an exhibition game scheduled to give European scouts a bonus opportunity to look at the Jamaican talent.

“I would think that it (the tour) was a success as the youngsters, in trying conditions where it was extremely cold, did very well, especially against South Korea a team that is World Cup-bound.

“I would like to use the opportunity to commend them as I believe they gave their all, and to end 2-2 with South Korea is a creditable result,” Ricketts told the Jamaica Observer.

More than the results, the JFF boss said the exercise was “good” for the younger players in the squad, some of whom were getting their feet wet as far as the national programme goes.

“This was also good as a number of youngsters were making their debut and they would have exhibited some level of mental toughness, and I can see these set of youngsters being the base of our team going forward,” Ricketts noted.

Even though there has been a focus on local-bred talent over the recent past, Ricketts gets the feeling that the coach may want to explore the possibility of looking outward to shore up the team's ranks with the CONCACAF League of Nations set to start in September.

“This is the coach's prerogative, but based on discussions, he could go for some overseas players to strengthen certain areas… as we want to have our best team on the field at all times,” said the Clarendon native.

“We can now look forward to the CONCACAF League of Nations and we will be using these kinds of games to prepare ourselves. and, of course, we will be trying our best to see how we can best improve our ranking,” Ricketts added.

The JFF president, who is finishing off the term of the late Captain Horace Burrell, said work is on in earnest to secure as many practice matches ahead of the new CONCACAF tournament, starting with the next FIFA window in March.

“We will try to get as many games as possible… I am in fact in negotiations with a number of teams as we speak, and these games we will be using as practice for the League of Nations.

“The truth is that we have been having discussions with two Caribbean countries and it is just for us to finalise an arrangement… even coming out of this tour, a number of countries have given the indication that they would have an interest, but in the next couple of weeks... we can finalise a game, or games, during the FIFA window of the March 19 to 27,” Ricketts noted.

In addition to practice games, the JFF president has seemingly warmed to the idea of having camps abroad.

“We want to support our technical staff as best we can. and the director of football (Wendell Downswell), head coach (Theodore Whitmore) and chairman of the technical committee (Everton Tomlinson) need to now sit down and work out a strategy and a plan on the way forward, and the JFF will certainly give as much support as it can,” Ricketts said.

He also admitted that the training infrastructure at the Antalya Sports Complex in Turkey was an impressive layout and is worthy to be replicated even on a smaller scale, but fully in concept.

“It was really an experience, and the training facility is something we would really want to copy… the stadium (Mardan Stadium) where we played South Korea was imposing, to say the least, even though it seated just about seven thousand. but it was beautifully laid out and we must, as best as possible, try to copy some of these structures and fields,” Ricketts concluded.

The Antalya Sports Complex is a multi-purpose football facility specialising in hosting clubs and national teams for camps as they try to escape their winters.

During the week the Boyz were in Antalya, club teams from Colombia, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Turkey were using the Antalya Sports Complex.

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