Under-20 Reggae Boyz Head Coach John Wall using senior professional minutes as main benchmark for selection for Concacaf U-20 Qualifiers in February

By December 16, 2023
John Wall. John Wall.

Head Coach of Jamaica’s Under-20 Reggae Boyz, John Wall, says senior professional minutes will be the main benchmark for the selection of his squad for the Concacaf Under-20 Qualifiers set for February 23-March 2, 2024 across five venues in Central America and the Caribbean.

Jamaica were drawn alongside Bermuda, Grenada and St. Kitts & Nevis in Group F of the qualifiers. That group will play at the SKNFA Technical Center in Basseterre, St. Kitts & Nevis.

“What I’m interested in is the long haul and figuring out how these players can become first team players for Jamaica,” said Wall at a Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) press conference on Thursday.

 “It’s been a process ever since March on a monthly basis in except July and September-November. In those months, it’s hard to get access to the players. We’re close to 80 players reviewed since March,” he said. We’re already pretty much fully operative and people are voluntarily scouting for us and providing reports so I’m pretty close to actually delivering the 60-man squad that will be the provisional list sent to Concacaf,” he added.

Wall then outlined that he is using the blueprint of the youth setups of Denmark and Uruguay for how he is selecting players for his squad, mentioning senior minutes played as the main benchmark for those teams.

“I’ve used Denmark and Uruguay as a benchmark. They’re pretty close in terms of size of the nation. Denmark’s U-21, and I’m taking two highest leagues, by October this year, has 21,885 senior professional minutes and a squad market value of 29 million Euros. Uruguay, who won the U-20 World Cup, 18,000+ and a squad value of 28 million Euros. How close is Jamaica to that on a global scale?” he said.

“For me, I have to look at senior professional minutes first and looking domestically, it’s a semi-professional league in JPL so that’s the closest we can get there. Globally, how close are the players to actually playing senior professional football? The margin now globally is that players are getting younger and younger, better educated and kind of pre-selected. Domestically, you’re looking at age groups that were hit the most by Covid and did not play too much at all so it’s been a race to the bottom depletion of the pool. Unfortunately, I cannot relate to schoolboy football and converting that to global football; it’s a different game,” he added.

Once the provisional squad is selected, Wall says the plan going forward is to get some friendlies and try to utilize as many players as possible leading into the qualifiers.

“Moving on, what we’re looking at is in January to play a friendly where we’ll utilize players from Jamaica and North America and furthermore, heading into February prior to the qualifiers, being on a camp and playing an added two more friendlies that are of a high quality so we will be prepared well for the qualifiers. Then we will be able to utilize an even bigger group of players,” he said.

“It’s been a gradual thing, trying to utilize as many players as possible. Speaking of that, we have assessed, we have reviewed, we have scouted and done due diligence prior to all of this. I am human meaning on the selection day there will be one or two players that might’ve been there,” Wall added.

Bradley Jacks

Bradley Jacks is a budding journalist and an avid sports fan. His love of research and sports has led him to SportsMax.tv, a place where those passions work hand in hand to allow him to produce content.

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