Understrength Reggae Boyz prepare for tough start to World Cup qualifiers at Estadio Azteca Featured

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021 410

An understrength Jamaica Reggae Boyz will begin their bid to return to the FIFA World for the first time in 23 years with a match at the world-renowned Estadio Azteca, against familiar opponents Mexico, on Thursday.

In response to the UK’s quarantine rules, as it relates to travel to nations that have been added to the red list, the English Premier and English Football Leagues made the decision to not release players for World Cup Qualifiers in those countries.

The league’s issues stem from a mandatory 10-day quarantine period that players would have to undergo once they return to England.  The stipulation would see players missing at least two games with possibly more time required to get up to fitness standards.  

 While Jamaica itself remains in the amber zone, which involves much less stringent restrictions, Mexico and Costa Rica who the team will face in away contests this round are both in the red zone.

In response, the Jamaica Football Federation has named a large 35-man squad, with all the English-based players set to miss out on the fixtures against Mexico and Costa Rica.

The players based in the English leagues will rejoin the squad for the team’s match against Panama on Sunday, where among them West Ham striker Michail Antonio is expected to make his debut.

Against Mexico, at the Stadio Azteca, it has not been a happy hunting ground for the Jamaicans, who have drawn once and lost 5 times in 6 matches.  The team's lone point came in a 0-0 draw in 2013.

Despite not having a full-strength squad at his disposal, however, Theodore Whitmore, who was in charge of the team on that occasion believes the team could repeat the feat.

“I am very disappointed not having the full complement of players, but the show must go on. We know the challenges we face; we have a game to play. We have to prepare ourselves as best as possible going into this game,” Whitmore said.

“I wouldn't say pressure because every game the national team plays everybody expects positive results, good performances.  I don't think these games coming up are an exception. We are looking forward and we want to put the best team out there at all times and we are looking forward to a good result against the Mexico team.”

Mexico will also not have some of its top attacking players such as Raúl Jiménez, from EPL team Wolverhampton, and Hirving Lozano, from Napoli (Italy) and will also not have Héctor Herrera, from Atlético de Madrid, present in the midfield.  The Mexicans will also be forced to play in front of an empty stadium after being sanctioned by FIFA for homophobic chants earlier this year.  The match will kick off at 9:00 pm.

 

Jamaica Squad vs Mexico: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Dillon Barnes (Queens Park Rangers), Dennis Taylor (Humble Lions), Damion Lowe (Al-lttihad), Adrian Mariappa (pending), Alvas Powell (Philadelphia Union), Kemar Lawrence (Toronto FC), Devon Williams (Miami FC), Junior Flemmings (Birmingham Legion), Cory Burke (Philadelphia Union), Shamar Nicholson (Charleroi), Oniel Fisher (LA Galaxy), Blair Turgott (Ostersund), Norman Campbell (FK Cukaricki), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United), Anthony Grant (Swindon Town), Tyreek Magee (Eupen), Lamar Walker (Miami FC), Peter Vassell (Indy Eleven), Javon East (Santos de Guápiles), Romario Williams (Qadsia SC), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps), Richard King (Cavalier).

Rest of squad: Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Liam Moore (Reading FC), Amari’i Bell (Luton Town), Wesley Harding (Rotherham United), Ravel Morrison (Derby County), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford City), Kevin Stewart (Blackpool), Bobby Reid (Fulham), Jamal Lowe (Swansea City), Kemar Roofe (Rangers).

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Last modified on Wednesday, 01 September 2021 17:03
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