Waite welcomes Under-20 challenge as John Wall's replacement

By Sports Desk March 12, 2024
John Wall (left) and Jerome Waite. John Wall (left) and Jerome Waite.

Newly appointed Under-20 Reggae Boyz Head coach Jerome Waite, is looking forward to the challenge of possibly qualifying the country to its first Under-20 Men's World Cup since the Argentina feat in 2001. 

The veteran tactician, who heads Jamaica Premier League (JPL) outfit, Tivoli Gardens, and Manning Cup unit, Wolmer’s Boys’ School, was appointed as replacement for John Wall, who led the team through the first phase of qualifying with victories over Grenada, Martinique and Bermuda in St Kitts and Nevis recently.

Waite brings a wealth of experience to the position, as he previous led or assisted with teams at the Under-20, Under-23 and senior levels.

In fact, Waite was at the helm when the young Reggae Boyz went into the 2018 tournament without much preparation or expectation, but surprised the entire nation when they finished level on 13 points from five games with CONCACAF kingpins, Mexico, at the top of the group. However, Mexico qualified for the second round by virtue of a better goal difference than the Jamaicans, as only the group winner advanced.

Since then, Jamaica's closest run to qualification was when they made the quarterfinal of the 2022 tournament in Honduras.

"It is always a joy working with the national programme. It will be great going into the qualifiers with this group of players. Qualification will not be easy, but it is something that can be accomplished," Waite said.

Waite's appointment comes as Wall has been recalled from the Under-20 assignment by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

 

According to a press release from the JFF, Wall's focus will be on his role as assistant head coach to Heimir Hallgrímsson as the senior men’s team prepares for their Nations League semi-final fixture against the United States later this month.

“The Jamaica Football Federation has decided to recall coach John Wall from duties with the under-20 team, so he can better concentrate on assisting Hallgrimsson in preparing the senior men's national team for the numerous competitions ahead,” an official statement read.

Jamaica's young Reggae Boyz, who topped Group F, joined other group winners Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Canada in the Championship round where they are set to meet the six pre-seeded nations – United States, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic –ranked in that order.

The championship will be hosted in Guanajuato, Mexico in June, with the group draw set for April.

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