Japan friendlies bring 'Tappa' joyFriday, May 14, 2021
BY IAN BURNETT
HEAD coach of Jamaica's senior men's football team Theodore Whitmore has welcomed the opportunity for his Reggae Boyz to play three practice games in Japan early next month.
The first game is against the hosts on Thursday, June 3 in Sapporo, followed four days later on Monday, June 7 against the 28th-ranked Serbia in Kobe. Those two games fall within the Fifa window for international games.
However, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has managed to secure another game against the Japan Olympic team slated for Saturday, June 12 in Nagoya.
Whitmore, who has called for practice games to properly prepare his squad ahead of a busy year of football which includes the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament in July and the start of the Fifa Concacaf World Cup Qualifiers in September, was delighted.
“This is an important year for the Reggae Boyz in so far as international competition is concerned,” he said during yesterday announcement of the games.
“We welcome the two matches against Japan and Serbia, as these are important games to fine-tune our preparations for Gold Cup. We anticipate a very competitive roster and view this as positive.”
He urged each player, domestic and foreign-based, to use every available opportunity to perform and press their case for selection.
JFF President Michael Ricketts was also a satisfied man as he made the announcement.
“We've committed to providing within our means all the support the technical staff needs and this includes international games against competitive opponents with the best available players and the necessary equipment and machinery,” he stated as he gave details of the games in the Asian country.
And he was also at peace that all safety measures have been put in place to safeguard the contingent on its travel in Japan.
“We are satisfied with the arrangements for our players and staff members are comprehensive in respect of safety in this current pandemic. I want to thank all those involved with the relevant negotiations in order for these games to come to fruition and I am sure the technical staff is very appreciative.”
Ricketts advised that discussion has been ongoing for a long time and all of this would have been because of trying to navigate as best as possible the current state of the pandemic in Japan.
“So we have had extensive discussions in this regard and all detailed protocols have been put in place by the Japanese FA in conjunction and collaboration with the Japanese Government. In fact, we were instructed not to make an official announcement because the Japanese Government was waiting to formalise a protocol system that would be able to accommodate us. Now that that has been done we have been privileged to make this announcement.”
Meanwhile, Whitmore has named 30 players for the tour of Japan, but he was quick to point out that between eight and nine players will return to their clubs after the first two games, because the third game does not fall within the Fifa window.
However, a notable absentee is Bayer Leverkusen's wily winger Leon Bailey, whose is yet to sign the JFF contract.
“Leon is an important member of the squad, he's also in good form and we look forward to him joining us. However, the federation has a policy that to be called each player has to sign a contract and that's the outstanding matter with Leon, so we hope for a resolution as quickly as possible,” explained Whitmore.
Ricketts added: “There is a little bit of tardiness on behalf of Leon and his management. They have not yet signed the contract and I think we would have got a verbal commitment that he will do so in short order.”
The squad includes a number of players who were recently at odds with the JFF over remuneration negotiations, as well as two first-time invitees, goalkeeper Dillon Barnes from Queens Park Rangers in England and winger Blair Turgott from Ostersunds FK in Sweden.
The coach was elated to have his senior players back in the fold.
He said: “We have spent the last three years looking, moulding and preparing. Now is the time to deliver. We need each player to challenge himself and take responsibility to be accountable on and off the pitch for performance and conduct. The standards and expectations are high.
“I must also again commend President Ricketts and his team at the JFF as well as the national players for resolving the contract negotiations and therefore removing this obstacle so that we can focus for the assignments ahead of us. All's well that ends well, as they would say.”
Squad: Andre Blake, Dennis Taylor, Jeadine White, Dillon Barnes, Liam Moore, Adrian Mariappa, Kasey Palmer, Kemar Lawrence, Amari Bell, Wesley Harding, Oniel Fisher, Alvas Powell, Devon Williams, Kevon Lambert, Ravel Morrison, Blair Turgott, Junior Flemmings, Damion Lowe, Luca Levee, Tyreek Magee, Bobby Reid, Lamar Walker, Shemar Nicholson, Cory Burke, Javon East, Andre Gray, Jashaun Anglin, Ethan Pinnock, Michael Hector, and Kevaughn Isaacs.
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