Striking the balance: Wall names 10 overseas-based players in final squad for U-20 Champs

By February 20, 2024
WALL...ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails. WALL...ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails. file

Having found a good blend of local and overseas-based players, young Reggae Boyz Head coach John Wall will now be hoping his team can execute efficiently throughout their Concacaf Men’s Under-20 Championship campaign.

Wall and his 21-member team, which includes 10 overseas-based players, are scheduled to arrive in St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday where they are expected to fine tune preparations for their Group F assignment against Martinique, Grenada and Bermuda.

The Swedish tactician named his final squad following two warm-up fixtures against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, and one against their senior club outfit in the twin island republic. They first lost 2-3 to Trinidad and Tobago, but won the second contest 3-1, with a goalless stalemate against the club team.

Despite those results, Wall in a recent interview, expressed pleasure with his team's display for the most part.

“Three games, three different outcomes, but mainly it (the camp) was just to build a solid foundation in our style of play, how the environment is, what we value and what it takes to play in the national setting. So, it gave me a lot of answers as to where the players are at present, and what needs to be assessed as we move forward towards St Kitts, so hopefully the process can continue ahead of the tournament,” Wall said.

With Jamaica failing to qualify for the Under-20 Men’s World Cup since Argentina 2001, the hope is that Wall’s side will better the country’s quarterfinals run from Honduras in 2022, to accomplish the qualifying feat.

The young Reggae Boyz will open against Martinique on Saturday, followed by a clash with Grenada on February 26, before closing against Bermuda two days later.

“For me it’s about controlling the controllable at this point in terms of what we can do,” Wall, who is assisted by former Reggae Boyz defender Rudolph Austin, declared.

“My hope and aspiration (for the tournament) lie in the work that we put down and not the talent that we assess, so we have to do the work consistently because ultimately what I care about is making sure that Jamaica prevails,” he added.

Only the group winners will progress to the next phase of the Concacaf Under-20 tournament to join the top teams –United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

Squad -Akeem Bernard (Phoenix Academy), Joshua Grant (Real Salt Lake), Taywane Lynch (Mount Pleasant FA), Romain Blake (Chicago Fire), Michael Forbes (Cavalier), Adrian Reid Jr (Cavalier), Ronaldo Barrett (Cavalier), Ahir Dixon (Woodstock Academy), George Grant Jr (Middlesbrough FC), Kyron Horsley McKay (Millwall FC), Alexander Bicknell (Leixoes SC), Malachi Welch (Leyton Orient), Christopher Ainsworth (Cavalier), Brian Burkett (Dunbeholden FC), Dunsting Cohen (Vere United FC), Denzel McKenzie (Phoenix Academy), Robino Gordon (Phoenix Academy), Fabian Reynolds (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Ashton Gordon (Atlanta United), Nick Simmonds (Richmond Kickers), Tyrese Gowe (Dunbeholden FC)

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

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