Prominent Napoli forward Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano will miss out for Mexico against Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz, in the upcoming crunch World Cup qualifier, due to an accumulation of yellow cards.

The match is shaping up to be a crucial fixture for both teams.  The Jamaicans still harbour hope of securing a spot at the upcoming FIFA World Cup but find themselves off the pace in 6th place, seven points behind the final qualification spot with a few games to go.  However, the Mexicans could also find themselves out of the qualifying spots if the result does not go their way, as they are currently in third on 14 points, the same amount as third-place Panama. 

With crucial points on the line, Mexico would love to have the Napoli player to call upon.  The player, however, received a yellow card in the game against Canada, in the last round, on November 16, and prior to that one against El Salvador in October.

The player has nonetheless been called up for the round of matches and is expected to feature in follow-up games against Costa Rica and Panama.

 

 General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, has welcomed the implementation of Video Assistant Replay (VAR), which will be used for the final six games of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

Prior to this, Concacaf was one of only three nations not making use of the technology, alongside AFCON (Africa) and Oceania, and were hampered in their efforts to do so by not only technological restrictions but also due to a lack of certified officials.  With both issues rectified since the start of the year, the way is now clear for the replay system to be implemented.

In its absence, the competition has been plagued by what some believe to be high-profile refereeing errors.  Against the United States with the game tied at 1-1, Jamaica defender Damion Lowe’s header, which flew into the net 7 minutes from time, was controversially ruled out for what appeared to be very little contact with US defender Walker Zimmerman.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With the country well behind on points in their pursuit of three and a half qualification spots, three points instead of one could have made a huge difference.  Wint hopes that in the future such costly errors can be avoided.

“I think it (decisions like that) is one of the major reasons CONCACAF decided to implement it.  It is really important to get the major decisions right,” Wint said of the upcoming technology upgrade.

There have of course also been times when the technology may have gone against the country notably when Lowe was himself yellow carded for a last-ditch challenge on USA player Brenden Aaronson, although the call might have been marginal at best.

“I’m all for it.  If you have the technology, then why not use it.  You can’t have it both ways, at times it may slow the game down, but it is important to try and arrive at the correct decision.”

The Reggae Boyz, who are currently in 6th place in the eight-team standings and 7 points behind the final qualifying spot, will resume their qualification campaign against Mexico on January 27th.  

 

 

 

Preparations are advancing for the Video Assistant Replay (VAR) replay system to be installed at Jamaica’s National Stadium, with a site visit expected to take place early next week.

Production and audiovisual company MediaPro, which is already in charge of broadcasting all Concacaf events, will be responsible for implementing the technology in Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.  The other four venues, which do not have the technology installed.

The move follows up on the decision by CONCACAF to implement VAR for the region in September, but the move was held up not only by logistical considerations but also by adequately certified officials.

In recent weeks, however, football’s world governing body FIFA has accredited referees, as well as VAR assistants and managers.  Prior to that, only the United States, Mexico, and Canada had VAR officials as they were the only ones to make use of the technology in their various leagues.

Implementing the technology in Jamaica will incur an added expense as the equipment will have to be flown to the island before being installed at the country’s national stadium.  The other CONCACAF venues taking part in the Octagonal round, which do not have yet the technology, can be accessed via roadways.  The majority of the bill will be picked up by Concacaf.  Jamaica will resume World Cup qualification action against Mexico, at the National Stadium, on January 27th.

West Ham striker Michail Antonio was eager to represent Jamaica’s national team almost a decade ago but was overlooked for players in England football’s lower leagues.

Earlier this year, the England-born player was approached by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), regarding the prospect of representing the Caribbean nation, and agreed to switch nationalities.  Antonio qualifies to represent Jamaica, as both his parents were born on the island.

The striker, now 31, has confirmed, however, that it was not the country’s first attempt to recruit him and that he had in fact been contacted by the JFF while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 2012.

“When I was 22, the manager of the Reggae Boyz, I can’t remember the name of him, came to Sheffield Wednesday to speak to players saying, ‘would you want to play for Jamaica?’ I said yes, I will come and play 100 percent,” Antonio said during an interview with Sport Bible.

“He said ok, I’ll give you a call, give you some information, bla, bla, bla.  He came and watched me play against Leeds that weekend.  I’m a very honest person, I had a stinker and I’m not going to lie, but I was an established Championship player.  I played in the Championship from 19 through to 25.  The next international break they were calling up players from League One and League 2, wingers, over me, which I didn’t understand,” he added.

In 2012, then president of the JFF captain Horace Burrell travelled to England along with head coach Theodore Whitmore and assistant coach Alfredo Montesso on a scouting mission to recruit players of Jamaican heritage.  Interestingly, Antonio played under Whitmore earlier this year, before the coach was fired in November.  

The player also dismissed reports that he was approached by the federation three years later while playing for Nottingham Forrest.  Insisting that neither he nor his agent ever received an offer at that point, despite claims to the contrary.

Antonio has been an instant hit since donning the country’s national colours, scoring twice in three games, which includes a 30-yard belter against the United States.  Despite the move coming late on in his career and leaving the England national team selection pool, he insists there are no regrets.

“It got to a stage where I just thought, ‘I'm not going to get called up’. I didn’t believe I was going to get the call.  There's loads of quality young strikers out there, he’s trying to build a team for the future. And that Tammy Abraham is young, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is young and Harry Kane is still quite young,” he added.

 “My mum was born in Jamaica and my dad was born in Jamaica. I went to Jamaica all the time when I was younger.  Why not try and see if we can get Jamaica to a World Cup after they’ve not been there for 20 years.

“No regrets whatsoever, I'm enjoying my football with them. And the difference with Jamaica, with England they got to the Euros final and stuff like that but with Jamaica, every achievement is a massive achievement.”  

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall says being reactive in transition and circulating the ball quickly will allow the team to get the forwards more involved.

Jamaica has struggled offensively in their World Cup Qualifying campaign so far only managing six goals in their first eight matches.

Hall says getting the ball forward is a priority but a balance needs to be found.

“What we need to think about is a balance with everything. We need to be able to get the ball forward, obviously. We’ve been using our full-backs to get forward and try to get crosses in,” Hall said.

One approach that the team has tried is to use a target-man approach with West Ham striker Michail Antonio. This was evident in the team’s 3-0 loss to Panama on September 5.

Panama countered that approach by putting two centre backs on Antonio and essentially taking him out of the game.

Hall, however, sees progress from his team where that style of play is concerned.

“I think you’re starting to see the team take shape. The ball is going up to Michail Antonio and it’s starting to hold. He’s starting to get some players to support him. We’re able to build a little bit more,” said Hall.

When questioned about the formation of the team going forward, Hall said his emphasis will be on style rather than position.

“I like to build play. I like to get midfield players on the half-turn, playing it forward. It’s not necessarily a formation, it’s a style so whether you play 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, the players all know what style they’re playing in. They want to be able to play one and two-touch, circulate the ball really quickly and make it difficult for people to get close to you so it’s really important that we get the work into the players,” he said.

Hall reiterated that while it will be difficult to implement all his proposed changes in the short term, there are still some general ways his team can improve their offensive output.

“Like I said, in the short term it’s quite difficult to make that happen straight away but there are things like reacting in the transition, winning the ball back quickly and getting the ball forward as much as we can in a controlled manner and really just being attacking-based. That for me is the way how you do it,” said Hall.

The Reggae Boyz have also conceded 10 goals in their eight matches and Hall says limiting mistakes on the ball is a way to solve the Reggae Boyz defensive woes.

“We have players who can keep the ball and receive the ball in those deep-lying midfield areas. We’ve just got to make sure we create situations for us to be able to not lose the ball and focus on that. Really focus on keeping the ball,” Hall said.

Jamaica currently sits sixth in the standings in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying with seven points from their eight matches.

Each team has played eight games so far with Canada atop the standings with 16 points ahead of the USA with 15.

Mexico and Panama are third and fourth with 14 each while Costa Rica is fifth with nine.

The Reggae Boyz next take on Mexico on January 27, 2022.

The top three teams at the end of 14 matches will advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup while the team in fourth will advance to a playoff against a team from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

 

 

Paul Hall has been appointed head coach of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz following the sacking of Theodore Whitmore earlier today, the Jamaica Football Federation has confirmed. Hall will be in charge for the remainder of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers that resume early next year.

 “Bearing in mind that the World Cup campaign is still ongoing, the JFF has decided to appoint former assistant Paul Hall to lead until the World Cup cycle ends,” a statement from the JFF read.

 “The JFF wishes to thank Mr Whitmore for the work that he has put in with the team over the years."

 JFF President Michael Ricketts confirmed Hall’s appointment earlier today saying, “Paul is the new head coach. We have had discussions with Paul and he is willing and ready. Everything is in place for him to take over.”

Hall is no stranger to the Reggae Boyz. He was a member of the team that historically qualified for the 1998 FIFA World Cup along with other English-based players Fitzroy Simpson, Deon Burton and Robbie Earle.

Hall joined the coaching staff in June on a part-time basis while still being employed by the English club Queens Park Rangers.

The decision to fire Whitmore stems from a recommendation from the JFF’s Technical Committee, who voted almost unanimously to fire him after what has been a disappointing final round campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

After eight games, Jamaica has seven points and lies sixth in the eight-team table. Jamaica has only one win so far after wasting glorious opportunities to defeat the United States at the National Stadium in Kingston in November and Costa Rica a few weeks earlier.

 

 

Theodore Whitmore has been fired by the Jamaica Football Federation, Sportsmax.TV has confirmed.

West Indies Women captain, Stafanie Taylor, has warned against complacency from her team as they begin their quest to qualify for the 2022 ICC Women’s World Cup to be held in New Zealand from March to April in 2022.

The Windies Women open their campaign tomorrow at 2:30am local time against Ireland in Harare and Taylor has warned against underestimating their opponents.

“That’s one thing you don’t want to do. Everyone’s here to win the competition. We’re not here to take any team for granted. We’re here to play hard cricket and come out on top,” said Taylor.

With the West Indies Women having completed a 3-0 series sweep against Pakistan prior to their arrival in Harare, Taylor says she hopes the team can carry their momentum into the tournament.

“I think we had a good series against Pakistan so I would love to see us continue where we left off from there. We’ve been playing some good cricket and getting some really good scores from our top players and even the lesser batting line up," she said.

Taylor concedes, however, that even with the team entering the qualifiers in good form there are still areas that need improvement.

“In our batting, it’s running the first one hard, turning twos into threes. In bowling, bowlers need to get early wickets and eliminate the wides,” she said.

The captain also provided some insight into the confidence of the team coming off some good results before the tournament.

“The morale is pretty good, especially seeing batters getting runs. I think that’s something that we’ve been working on because we’ve been relying on the bowling department for quite some time now so it’s really nice that the batters have been scoring those runs,” she said.

The West Indies other group games will be Saturday, November 27th against Sri Lanka and Monday, November 29th against the Netherlands with both matches beginning at 2:30am local time.

The Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers feature nine teams divided into two groups.

West Indies Women are in group A alongside Ireland, Sri Lanka and The Netherlands while group B comprises Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Zimbabwe and the USA.

Papua New Guinea were also supposed to be in the field but had to withdraw after a Covid-19 outbreak within the team before boarding their flight to Zimbabwe.

The top three teams from each group will advance to the Super 6 phase and the top three teams at the end of that phase will qualify for the 2022 World Cup alongside Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa and England.

 

Jamaica head coach, Theodore Whitmore, is expected to be replaced as head coach of the country’s national team with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical committee on Wednesday, expected to meet and make the recommendation.

Whitmore, a former national player, who was a part of the country’s historic 1998 World Cup team, was in his third stint in charge of the Jamaica squad.  The Reggae Boyz have, however, struggled in the ongoing World Cup qualifiers despite being one of the pre-tournament favourites to do well.

After eight games the team is in 6th spot, seven places off the automatic qualification and play-off spots.  During the difficult run, which included a 3-0 home loss to Panama, the coach’s line-up choices and tactics have come into question.

Whitmore, however, has one of the best win percentages as a Jamaica coach and is only one of two to take the team to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.  According to yet to be confirmed reports, Whitmore is expected to be replaced by former England player Ricky Hill, a coach formerly at American USL Championship club Tampa Bay Rowdies.  Whitmore’s assistant Paul Hall will reportedly stay on as a part of the coaching unit.  The Jamaican team will resume its World Cup qualification with a home fixture against Mexico in January.

 

Jamaica Reggae Boy Liam Moore is hopeful the team can continue its recent trend of keeping clean sheets ahead of World Cup qualification encounters against El Salvador and the United States.

The Jamaican team got off to a rocky start to the qualifiers after conceding eight goals in its first six games.  However, the team’s fortunes have improved in the last two rounds after battling to a 0-0 draw with the competition’s top scorers Canada and securing a 2-0 away win over Honduras.

Moore missed that round of matches, which took place in September after suffering an injury, but the defender did, however, watch the matches while sidelined and is eager to make his contribution for the team as it looks to pick up where it off.

“I watched the games back in the UK while I was injured and I thought there were a lot of positives with the clean sheets,” Moore told TVJ Sports.

“Talking about moving forward now, it’s about trying to continue to grow from that.  So, we need more clean sheets and try to get as many points on the board as we can,” he added.

The Reading player has made five appearances for the Jamaica national team to date.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore is impressed with the team’s camaraderie, after using an extra day to prepare for the team’s World Cup qualifier against El Salvador on Friday.

In recent months questions had been raised regarding the team’s sense of togetherness on the back of a rumoured rift between locally born and Uk-born members of the squad.  That narrative has, however, shifted on the back of two solid performances against Canada and Honduras in the previous round of matches.

Heading into Friday’s encounter Whitmore is eager to see that trend continue heading into the upcoming round of games.

“I’m very pleased with the enthusiasm of the players.  The camaraderie is good, the vibes in the camp is good and I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far,” Whitmore said.

The team arrived in El Salvador on Monday, in order to be able to squeeze in an extra training session for the team.

“We are looking forward to the final session and the game.”

The Jamaicans who got their campaign slow start are looking to build momentum on the back of their first win of qualifiers, which came against Honduras in the previous round.  The team is currently 6th in the eight-team standings on 5 points, 3 outside of the qualifying spots.

Jamaica international Leon Bailey is feeling fit and ready ahead of a probable debut in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old has suffered an injury-plagued few months after moving to the English Premier League’s Aston Villa from German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen.

 In a stop-start season at Villa, Bailey has managed 6 appearances at the club but only forced his way into the starting line-up for the past two games, having recovered full fitness.  In the meantime, however, Jamaica has played six World Cup qualifiers but only their first win in the last round.  Having finally joined the squad ahead of matches against El Salvador and the United States, however, the player is hoping to make an impact.

“I played my first 90 minutes on the weekend, so I am feeling ready to go,” Bailey said.

“We haven’t had a great start, but I hope we can turn things around very quickly because this means a lot not just to players but also the country,” he added.

I think as a team we need to do better, and we will.  Hopefully, we’ll get the results because it will be a dream for us all to make it to the next World Cup.”

Jamaica are currently 6th in the eight-team standings on five points, three outside of the final qualifying spot.

Jamaica international Andre Gray has called for English League clubs to show more respect to teams from Africa and the Caribbean, as it relates to players taking part in international competitions.

According to the forward, currently on-loan at Queens Park Rangers from Watford, players that are called up for countries from the CONCACAF and Confederation of African Football (CAF) often faced increased pressure as clubs regard the decision in a negative light.

By contrast, players being called up for the England team is viewed as a positive and attracts much less scrutiny.  In truth clubs and countries have often found themselves locked in conflict regarding the use of top international players during international windows. 

Most recently things came to a head when English League clubs attempted to block, and in some instances prevented players from travelling to Africa, South America, and the Caribbean due to travel restrictions and quarantine measures that were put in place.  In retaliation, the countries affected threatened to use their power under FIFA regulations to ban players for one league match.  

“If England call there is going to be no arguments.  The minute you get called up for Nigeria or Jamaica it’s an inconvenience and a risk to the club,” Gray said in an interview with The Athletic.

“It’s just a stereotype around it.  It is the same with AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), which is scheduled to start in January.  That has more respect around it now because of people like Mo Salah,” he added.

 

 

The England-based quartet of Michail Antonio, Leon Bailey, Ravel Morrison, and Liam Moore have been recalled to the Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad for the team’s upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers.

Antonio, the in-form West Ham striker, was controversially not available for the previous round after miscommunication between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the player’s agent and club. 

The issue stemmed from the forward not being allowed to carry his personal physio to the matches.  With the issue now resolved, however, Antonio is expected to return to the line-up for the first time since facing Panama in September. 

Aston Villa’s Bailey, who has recently recovered from injury, could be in line to appear for the first time in the final round.  Reading’s Moore, who pulled out of the previous round of games with an injury concern, has also been recalled.  Derby’s Morrison will also return to the squad for the first time since appearing in the 3-0 loss to Panama.  Major League Soccer Philadelphia Union’s Cory Burke has also been recalled to the squad after missing the previous round with an ankle injury.

The Jamaicans will face El Salvador on November 12 and the United States on November 16.  

 Full Squad: Andre Blake, Dillon Barnes, Jeadine White, Liam Moore, Adrian Mariappa, Damion Lowe, Kemar Lawrence, Oniel Fisher, Gregory Leigh, Alvas Powell, Anthony Grant, Ravel Morrison, Devon Williams, Je-Vaughn Watson, Lamar Walker, Bobby Reid, Junior Flemmings, Cory Burke, Javon East, Shamar Nicholson, Andre Gray, Michail Antonio, Kemar Roofe, Leon Bailey.

Around 5000 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend the Jamaica Reggae Boyz upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States after the country’s government reversed its previous position.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a request by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to allow fully vaccinated fans into the country’s National Stadium for the first time since the start of the qualifiers had been denied.

The team’s previous home matches against Panama and Canada were played in front of an empty stadium due to the country’s existing Covid-19 protocols.  The JFF attempted to rectify the situation by implementing plans and protocols that would allow some fully vaccinated patrons to enter the match.  Initially, the proposal was rejected by the government who cited concerns regarding the ability of the entities to ensure proof of vaccination for patrons.  Following an emergency meeting, at the JFF headquarters on Thursday, however, the parties have now reached an understanding to allow the stadium to be occupied at around 14 percent capacity, consisting of fully vaccinated fans, for the encounter.

With only 12.4 percent of the country’s population fully vaccinated, however, the number of patrons who will be able to take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.  The vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the region and lowest among the countries participating in the final round.

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