Wall wants continuity of Under-20 Boyz after World Cup qualifiers
With Jamaica’s football on an upward trajectory, national Under-20 Head Coach John Wall has reaffirmed his commitment to join the process with a new standard to boost player development.
The senior Reggae Boys have risen from 64th to 55th place in the globe, while the senior Reggae Girlz have risen from 44th to 37th place. Wall is now tasked with leading the Under-20 Boyz to victory at the Concacaf Under-20 Qualifiers, which will take place across five locations in Central America and the Caribbean from February 23 to March 2, 2024.
The 27 teams were divided into three groups of five and three groups of four, with the young Reggae Boyz being placed in Group F alongside Bermuda, Grenada, and Martinique. That team will take the field at the SKNFA Technical Centre in Basseterre, St Kitts and Nevis.
While emphasising the necessity of reasonable expectations and continual player development, Wall also underlined the importance of working with FIFA dates and growing players in an international context.
“What I would like to do is, obviously my intention is that we start working with the FIFA dates as much as we can and not just after the tournament is done, then it’s shut down. It has to be continuously. And there are players that we need to educate and foster and nurture a bit too, in an international environment too. I think that’s really vital, because otherwise we’re going to lose generations,” Wall told the Jamaica Observer.
Wall stated that after the provisional 60-man roster is chosen, the goal is to play some friendly international matches and use as many players as possible leading up to the qualifications.
“How helpful will that be? It will be really helpful, because it will be giving me the time to review the players from the North American pool as well because there are players leaving from Jamaica to the US on a frequent basis too. Plus, there are players obviously born in the States too, with Jamaican heritage, who are naturalised already. So for me, that’s my intention of January. And from me, how I feel about Europe right now, I feel that we targeted the players that we want.
“Furthermore, heading into February prior to the qualifiers, being on a camp and playing an added two more friendly matches that are of a high quality or even more interesting level so we will be prepared well for the qualifiers. And then we will be able to utilise an even bigger pool of players,” he said.
“Speaking of that, we have assessed, we have reviewed, we have scouted and actually done due diligence prior to all of this. I am human, meaning on the selection day there will be one or two players that might’ve been there, and that’s fine. But what I am interesting in is the long haul, how these players can become first team players for Jamaica.” Wall added.
Wall stated that he will be picking players for his squad based on the youth setups of Denmark and Uruguay, citing senior minutes played as the major standard for those sides.
“I am using Denmark and Uruguay as a benchmark. They are pretty close in terms of size of the nations. Denmark’s U-21, and I am taking two highest leagues by October this year, has 21,885 senior professional minutes and a squad market value of 29 million euros. Uruguay, who won the U-20 World Cup, has 18,000 plus senior professional minutes and a squad value of 28 million euros. How close is Jamaica to that on a global scale?
“For me, I have to look at senior professional minutes first and looking domestically, it’s a semi-professional league in Jamaica Premier League, so that’s the closest we can get there. Globally, how close are the players to actually playing senior professional football?
“And then you have looked where we can access the players. And so I have been trying to look at senior professional minutes. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to schoolboy football and converting that to global football. I cannot; it’s a different game. So for me, I have looked at how we can recreate in our environment.” he added.
Wall expressed great expectation for Jamaica to qualify for Concacaf tournament and the World Cup.
“I expect us to qualify for the Concacaf tournament in the summer, which then would be the qualifying for the World Cup. I expect us to do that, but how and how it will look like, I’m not a fortune teller, but that’s my expectations,” he concluded.