Tight spot!
MARIAPPA...Reggae Boyz veteran selectedfor US friendly in Austria. (Photo: AFP)
Boyz in disarray after hurried departure to Washington for visa processing

WASHINGTON, DC, USA — Six first-time call-ups from overseas are among 19 players announced by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) yesterday to represent Jamaica in their friendly international against the USA next Thursday at Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

The newcomers include Curtis Tilt from Wigan Athletic FC, Amari Bell from Blackburn Rovers FC, Ethan Pinnock of Brentford FC, Liam Moore of Reading FC, Wesley Harding of Rotherham United FC and Andre Gray of Watford FC.

Four other overseas-based players have been included. They are veteran Adrian Mariappa, who now plays for Bristol City FC, Michael Hector of Fulham FC, Ravel Morrison (unattached) and former Under-17 Captain Omar Holness of Darlington FC.

The rest of the squad is made up of local-based players including Chavany Willis of Portmore United; Ricardo Morris, also of Portmore; Shaven Paul (Mount Pleasant FA); Kevaughn Isaacs, also of Mount Pleasant FA; Jabari Hylton of UWI FC; Renaldo Wellington of Montego Bay United FC; Jeadine White of Cavalier FC; Kemar Foster of Portmore and Luca Levee of Harbour View FC.

Levee is the only local-based player yet to join the group here.

Meanwhile, eight players and a limited number of support staff were forced to depart the island on Tuesday afternoon after the JFF was advised that members of the delegation would need to be present at the Austrian Embassy in Washington DC at 9:00 am yesterday for in-person Schengen visa applications and not via digital application as was planned.

That decision forced the cancellation of the planned weeklong training camp at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence after just one day.

The JFF was disappointed that an environment that would have allowed the players to once again begin to practise their craft could not be fully utilised at this time.

Though unforeseen and unfortunate, this latest setback has left Head Coach Theodore Whitmore a dejected man, still searching for how to assemble a group of players — fit enough on one hand, and co-ordinated enough on the other hand — to combine and give a good account of themselves against the US.

The visas are due on Friday, after which the group is slated to head further north to New York later that evening before departing for Vienna on Sunday afternoon.

The Austrian Ambassador to Washington Martin Weiss yesterday met with the Jamaican delegation at the completion of their visa application process and wished them good luck for the game and in the World Cup qualifiers. He urged them to enjoy his country and said he was happy to have assisted in the travel process, especially in this time of the pandemic.

It is important to note that the local-based players have not competed in a game since the novel coronavirus forced a halt to the National Premier League last March.

And up to press time last evening there was no indication of any planned session for the few players on hand, and Whitmore has refused to comment on the matter at this time.

The Boyz are without a number of regulars, who refused to suit up as they are yet to reach an agreement with the federation over emoluments for the upcoming World Cup Qualifiers, Concacaf Gold Cup and Nations League competitions.

Both Concacaf teams are using next Thursday's game to prepare for the final round of World Cup Qualifiers set to start in September. But even as Whitmore struggles to assemble a credible outfit, US Coach Gregg Berhalter has called up a super-strong 26-man roster featuring only three Major League Soccer players. The others play outside, mainly in some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Barcelona, Chelsea, RB Leipzig, Valencia, and Manchester City.

Squad: Jeadine White (Cavalier FC), Kemar Foster (Portmore United FC), Adrian Mariappa (Bristol City FC), Michael Hector (Fulham FC), Curtis Tilt (Wigan Athletic FC), Amari Bell (Blackburn Rovers FC), Etham Pinnock (Brentford FC), Liam Moore (Reading FC), Wesley Harding (Rotherham United FC), Renaldo Wellington (Montego Bay United FC), Chavany Willis (Portmore United FC), Ravel Morrison (unattached), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United FC), Jabari Hylton (UWI FC), Andre Gray (Watford FC), Omar Holness (Darlington FC), Kevaughn Isaacs (Mount Pleasant FA), Luca Levee (Harbour View FC), Shaven Paul (Mount Pleasant FA).

Austrian Ambassador to Washington Martin Weiss (2nd right) enjoys a photo opportunity with members of the Jamaican delegation at Austrian Embassy in Washington yesterday.(Photo: Julia Assl/Austrian Embassy Washington)

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