Blake thinks competing in Nations League, Copa America will benefit World Cup qualifying campaign
WHILE the ultimate goal is to qualify for the Fifa Men’s World Cup, Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Captain Andre Blake believes that competing and being successful in the Nation League and Copa American competitions can help the team attain that desired end.
The 2026 Fifa World Cup will be the 23rd staging of the global showpiece, the quadrennial international men’s football championship contested by national teams of Fifa’s member associations . The tournament will take place from a yet-to-be-determined date between June and July 19.
It will be jointly hosted by 16 cities in three North American countries, namely Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The tournament will be the first to be co-hosted by three nations and the first North American World Cup since 1994.
Argentina are the defending champions.
The Reggae Boyz will compete in the Concacaf Nation League semi-finals on March 21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, before the World Cup Qualifiers begin in June 2024. In one semi-final Jamaica will meet the United States, while Mexico will face Panama in the other.
The Reggae Boyz qualified for the Copa American — which will be held in the United States during the summer months of June to July 2024 — by reaching the Nation League semi-finals.
“The mindset is always to [not only] win but also to get better as a team. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the World Cup, you know, and go on a run — but it doesn’t happen like that. The more games we get, the more opportunity we get to grow,” Blake told the Jamaica Observer.
“It also helps us to build chemistry and so we really have to cherish these games. We have to cherish these moments and just continue to grow and go through different scenarios together because that’s really how you build a team.
“You need defining moments like the one in Canada where we defeated Canada in the quarter-final of the National League. I think that was a good moment for us, and that really gave us some momentum that we should build [on]. We have to now hold ourselves accountable and maintain these high standards because we know we have quality players but sometimes it takes time for everything to really fall into place,” the Reggae Boyz’s ace goalkeeper said.
The Boyz have drawn in Group B of the Copa America and will play alongside Mexico, Ecuador, and Venezuela.
Jamaica will play Mexico on June 22 in Houston, Texas at NRG Stadium; Ecuador on June 26 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium; and Venezuela on June 30 in Arlington, Texas at Q2 Stadium.
“We really did want to make it to this tournament. It is a big tournament, it is a big deal, and it is bigger than the Gold Cup for sure. You know, you are playing with the giants from South America and all of that. We are definitely looking forward to it.
“It is good, and we have a good group of guys, and the more time we get together to play this tournament, I think only good things can come. The goal for next year is to win all leagues — that’s the standard we have set for ourselves. We always want to be able to go all the way in the competitions that we are a part of, and so that’s the standard we have to hold ourselves accountable for and just work together towards it,” Blake noted.
“Support is always necessary, as when we go out to these places and play, even in Canada recently, it makes a difference, and we just have to continue doing our part. We’ve got to keep on winning games and, hopefully sooner than later, the fans will start to come out,” he added.