Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Thursday | December 8, 2011
Home : Sports
Lack of games hurt Reggae Boyz
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer

FLORIDA, United States:

Jamaica's failure to secure international games during the last official dates for 2011 allotted by football's governing body, FIFA, hurt the Reggae Boyz's preparation for next year's World Cup qualifiers.

But it remains to be seen how deep the damage is with World Cup qualifiers looming next year.

According to head coach Theodore Whitmore, the absence of games in mid-November cost Jamaica opportunities to further evaluate players already in the system and prevented a first glance at newcomers under consideration for the campaign, which includes home and away group games against Guatemala, Antigua and Barbuda, and the United States.

"We have a number of players who we would have liked to look (at) and give a chance (from) overseas," explained Whitmore during a visit here last weekend. "I think (not playing in November) kind of dampened our preparation a bit in terms of not putting them against quality opponents to see what they are made of."

Team members disappointed

Regulars in the national team were also a bit disappointed there were no games.

"Certainly, it was a date we would have loved to fulfil," said Shavar Thomas, who has been Jamaica's captain in recent games. "Definitely, players always want to play. It's always good for the preparation going forward, but we just have to make the best use of the next date coming up."

No clear reason why Jamaica did not play matches last month was offered publicly by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF). The JFF has been rocked by FIFA's suspension of president Horace Burrell and warning of general secretary Horace Reid, following an alleged bribery scandal at a Caribbean Football Union meeting in Trinidad in May.

Burrell's ban coincided with last month's FIFA game dates.

Whitmore said he has turned his attention to upcoming FIFA dates in 2012, beginning February, and Jamaica are targeting non-official dates to arrange games.

Jamaica open their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign on June 8 at home against Guatemala.

Camps for overseas players

Whitmore, who held a training camp for local-based players this week, is also hoping to arrange camps outside Jamaica to facilitate the incorporation of overseas-based players.

"We're trying to look at the next FIFA date to get a game or even games outside the FIFA dates," he said. "We're trying to stage a couple camps overseas as well to facilitate our preparation.

"Basically, we have a number of players we've looked at over the past year or so," he said. "We still have players to come in but, hopefully, we will basically come to a pool come June 8."

In line for a recall is Tyrone Marshall, who plays for the Colorado Rapids in North America's Major League Soccer (MLS). Marshall, who turned 37 last month and has more than 80 caps for Jamaica, last playing for the Boyz in 2010, has announced his retirement from international football before. He was invited to play in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but declined due to club commitments.

"We keep saying we haven't ruled out any player so long as they can contribute to the programme," Whitmore said when asked about Marshall, who played the second most minutes of his professional career during the 2011 MLS season.

"And, again, if you look overseas, these players are playing high-quality football at their age. So I don't see why they can't (come back)."

Home | Lead Stories | News | Business | Sports | Commentary | Letters | Entertainment | Food |