Ricketts takes positives from Boyz' failure to secure League A qualification

Sport Editor

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

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SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — The reality of Jamaica failing to qualify for the elite League A of the new Concacaf Nations League has hit Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Mike Ricketts very hard for more reasons than one.

The JFF had appeared set to host a historic Gold Cup match this summer, but Ricketts is now uncertain if Saturday's 0-2 loss to El Salvador will negatively affect his federation's chances of achieving the honour of being the first Caribbean country to do so.

The former Clarendon Football Association president is also concerned that Jamaica could very well fall in the next Fifa Coca-Cola World rankings, which would negatively impact the JFF's ability to secure international games against high profile countries, as well as the match fees that the Reggae Boyz would be able to command.

However, Ricketts has accepted the Reggae Boyz' fate and is of the view that the technical staff just needs to regroup, refresh and get it right at the Gold Cup this summer.

“Disappointing result,” was his immediate reaction to the Jamaica Observer when contacted for a response shortly after the Reggae Boyz arrived in neighbouring Costa Rica yesterday.

“We really thought that we would have been a lot more competitive against El Salvador, but we were technically not up to scratch and we were outplayed on the day. That's water under the bridge and we just have to look forward to the Gold Cup and the World Cup qualifiers.

“What it means now is that we will be in Pool B rather than Pool A and virtually we would have to start from scratch, but we really don't have an option right now, we just have to go back to the drawing board and reorganise and come again.”

He added: “We are hopeful that we will be strong at the Gold Cup, we still could have a game in Jamaica, which will be finalised in a few days. In fact, plans are being put in place right now. I know for sure that a venue has been engaged for a press conference, but we will get some confirmation in two or three days. Hopefully, if that works out, it would be a catalyst, a fillip, it must be some kind of an inspiration for us at the JFF, and by extension Jamaica, and even further extension, the Caribbean, because this would be the first time that a Gold Cup game would be played in the Caribbean, but we are still working on that, the logistics are being worked out.

“I'm not so sure that yesterday's (Saturday) results would have affected that, but I know having had discussions with Concacaf, that they were making plans for that game and for the launch in early April.”

Jamaica gave up two goals in their final Concacaf Nations League fixture in front of 32,000 partisan spectators on Saturday night, which eliminated them from the top six and guaranteed matches against the region's elite teams in the new competition set to start later this year.

They will now match their skills against teams from the second tier of the region.

The results would have been painful, but now the JFF boss wants to look ahead and for the team to rebound in a big way.

“The players' body language says it all, as a number of them seem quite dejected, but all is not lost and we are still in the Gold Cup, but it does affect our qualification for the World Cup,” he offered.

“The cold facts are that we weren't at our best at all, for whatever reason, and mentally we seemed unprepared and when we conceded the first goal we saw spurts of what we could do, moving the ball around well, and then we just lost it again, so hopefully this will be part of the learning process for the players.”

Ricketts explained that the team's inability to earn a place in the elite league would have hurt not just from a footballing standpoint, but from an administrative platform as well because Jamaica is seen by many in the region as one of the leading countries, not just in the Caribbean, but the wider Concacaf landscape.

But there is still hope.

“Normally, if you are looked at as being lowly ranked then you won't attract the good teams, but we have an agent, who is pretty good at his trade, and right now we are having negotiations with a high-profile team and we could very well have a big game just before the Gold Cup,” Ricketts revealed

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