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Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are continuing to prepare for an upcoming friendly against Spanish team Catalonia, despite the ongoing disruptions caused by the spread of the coronavirus in Europe.

A total of 73 cases have been identified in Spain so far, as Europe struggles to get the virus under control.  In Catalonia, where the Jamaica national team are expected to face the region at the end of the month, the number of persons infected has reached to 9.

Team manager of the national team Roy Simpson has insisted that while the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was keeping a watchful eye on the situation, the plans for the friendly so far remained in place.

“We continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. We are aware of the first case identified in Catalonia where we’ll be playing the game next month,” Simpson told RJR Radio in a recent interview.

“We’ve not been advised of any travel restrictions there so we continue to monitor that situation and if we get advice that it is unsafe to travel we will have to yield to that. As we speak now, all plans are still in place for travel to the UK and Spain mid next month,” he added.

The Jamaicans are expected to return to action in two week’s time when they face Bermuda in a friendly international on March 11 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

 

Jamaican Williams Myers will race in the 2020 Formula 4 United States Championship with the Group-A Racing team, the driver announced on Friday.

Goals from Captain Jody Brown, Lacey Murray and Marlee Fray spurred Jamaica to a 3-1 victory over Canada in the CONCACAF Women's U20 World Cup qualifying championship in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday.

Three teams will have an opportunity at a first-place finish in Group E following the results of matchday four of the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal.

The day started with Jamaica taking on El Salvador and the Reggae Girlz rode a quick start to the full three points in a 4-1 win.

Jody Brown was quick out of the gates with goals in the 2’ and 11’ to hand Jamaica a 2-0 lead.

El Salvador fought back to make it a one-goal affair right before halftime thanks to a score from Mara Rodriguez.

But Jamaica’s class would come to the fore in the second half, as goals from Lacey Murray in the 58’ and Chantelle Parker in the 82’ paced Jamaica to the victory.

 The group’s other game saw Guatemala and Canada battle to a 0-0 draw.

Las Chapines put forth an impressive defensive display in limiting the dangerous Canadian attack, thanks also in part to the heroics of GK Ashley Avalos.

The day’s results leave both Jamaica and Canada on four points, while Guatemala have two points and El Salvador have zero.

Action resume in Group E on Wednesday with Guatemala taking on El Salvador, while Canada square off against Jamaica.

Jamaica’s Portmore United is expected to face a tough task when they aim to turn the tables on Mexican outfit Cruz Azul, when the teams meet in the second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League, at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on Tuesday.

The Jamaicans had the Mexican club on their heels in the first leg, leading 1-0 heading into second-half stoppage time, but a ferocious late rally earned La Maquina a dramatic 2-1 win and the momentum going into Tuesday’s second leg.

History will be on Cruz Azul’s side with the Mexican club riding a 20-match home unbeaten streak in Concacaf competition and an overall record of 20W-6D-1L, with 69 goals scored and just 12 against.

 Nevertheless, Portmore United Head Coach Ricardo Gardner’s men have everything to gain and will be relying on the exploits of FW Ricardo Morris, who had four shots in the first leg, and GK Kemar Foster, who registered eight saves last week, to try to pull off the result.

For Cruz Azul, a draw or win would see them advance a round in the SCCL for the first time since 2013-14, when they last lifted the trophy.

There was no shortage of drama in Group E on Saturday at the 2020 Concacaf Women’s Under-20 Championship, with Jamaica rallying from three goals down to tie Guatemala 4-4 at the Estadio Panamericano in San Cristobal.

Guatemala looked to be in control and held a 3-0 lead thanks to goals from Sandra Ovando (12’), Andrea Alvarez (26’) and Maria Recinos (34’).

But the Reggae Girls would mount a ferocious comeback and would take a 4-3 lead on a goal from Jody Brown (50’) and a hat trick scored by Marlee Fray (53’, 68’, 76’).

Guatemala would have an answer though, as Alvarez scored her second of the day (78’), leading to a share of the spoils between the two sides.

The group’s other game saw Canada muscle past a tough El Salvador squad, 2-0.

The two teams were locked in a stalemate until Tanya Boychuk (56’) found the breakthrough. Canada then polished off the three points and the 2-0 scoreline with a goal from Kaila Novak (71’).

Action in Group E resumes on Monday with El Salvador tangling with Jamaica, while Canada will face Guatemala.

Jamaica sprint queen, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, believes compatriot Usain Bolt may have stepped away from the sport of track and field too early.

Bolt and Fraser-Pryce were the biggest stars in a decade of sprint dominance for Jamaica.  Between them, the duo racked up 20 World Championship gold medals and 10 Olympic gold medals.  However, while the evergreen Fraser-Pryce continues to dazzle the world with her prowess on the track, Bolt hung up his spikes in 2017.

At the age of 33, Fraser-Pryce created history by becoming the first athlete to claim four 100m World Championship titles, in an event not known for its longevity and consistency.  Bolt has three and Fraser-Pryce who took two years off after having her first child before returning to the top of sprinting, believes it could have been more.

“I don’t think it was ok for him to quit just yet.  I think he had more time in him, but I think he was a little tired and doesn’t like the training that much,” Fraser-Pryce said in a recent interview.

“I definitely think he misses it because he can see what I’m doing.  He messages me all the time and says it’s amazing to see what you are doing and I tell him you could still have been doing what I have been doing.”

Jamaica track and field superstar Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce already has one eye on defending her World Championship title on home soil, so to speak, with the 2021 edition set to be held in the North American region.

The 32-year-old created history at the last edition of the event in Doha, where she became the first woman to win four 100m world titles.  Fraser-Pryce has captured the world title at the Berlin (2009), Moscow (2013), Beijing (2015) and Doha (2018) World Championships.

Even though it is the Tokyo Olympics that is on the immediate horizon, the diminutive sprinter admits it is hard not to try and take a peek a little further ahead, an event that is likely to be her last major games appearance.

“After Tokyo, I am the defending champion at the world championships in Eugene and that is so close to home,” Fraser-Pryce told the AFP.

“It’s a few hours [flight] from Jamaica and to be able to end a career close to home, where I can have most, if not all, of my family in attendance, would be the highlight of my career,” she added.

“I am taking it a year at a time. After Tokyo, I can make that decision.”

Jamaica international Kemar Lawrence has insisted he is working hard to be ready when called upon for new Belgian Premier League club Anderlecht.

The 27-year-old defender recently completed a move to the European club from United States MLS team New York Red Bull.  Lawrence made 118 appearances for the New York franchise in five years.  With the move away from the club coming ahead of the start of the new MLS season, the right-back has admitted he is a little short on match fitness.

“The guys are already midway or past midway the season so it’s already business time.  For me right now it’s about getting fit and being ready to play,” Lawrence told members of the media at his unveiling.

Lawrence qualifies to play this weekend against  Mechelen but is not yet sure he is ready to make an appearance.

“As it relates to fitness, I’m coming off a long offseason about 2 months offseason, so match fitness I’m not up to that standard yet but I should be soon.  The guys are pushing each and every day, I am about a week in, so about next week or a week and a half I should be up to 90 minutes match fitness,” Lawrence said.

“So far though the guys are being smart because you know when a player is coming back from offseason you can’t just rush him into a game because that is risking injury.”

 

Retired Jamaica sprint legend Usain Bolt admits to missing the sport of athletics and once mulled the idea of coming out of retirement but was convinced he had made the right decision by his former coach Glen Mills.

Bolt, considered in many arenas as the greatest sprinter of all time, amassed stellar achievements in a career that lasted well over a decade.  In addition to holding the world record over both the 100m and 200m sprints, the Jamaican claimed 8 Olympic gold and 11 World Championship medals.

His soaring career might, however, be said to have ended on somewhat of a low after finishing third at the 2017 World Championships and failing to finish in the 4x100m relay. 

 "I talked to my track coach," Bolt told CNN Sport's Coy Wire. "And he was like, 'No, you're not doing it. People that retire and come back -- it doesn't always work out.'

The sprinter, who suffers from scoliosis of the spine, was quick to admit that he also did not miss the grueling training needed to compete at the highest level.

"For me, at the end I knew it was time because the drive wasn't there. But every time I watch track and field I miss it. And every time I go to the track to see my coach and I watch him training I go, 'Did I make the right decision?' ... But every time I train with them I think, 'Ah yeah I made the right decision. I don't miss this.'"

Jamaica Reggae Boyz shot-stopper and captain Andre Blake insists he is looking forward to what is expected to be a big year for both his club and national teams.

The 29-year-old goalkeeper made the MLS All-Star roster in 2016 and again in 2019.  By the numbers, however, Blake had a less than impressive season between the sticks.  The Union gave up 57 goals last year in all competitions. 

Blake didn’t have a clean sheet in the team’s last 13 games of the season and only had six for the team all year.  His goals-against average rose from 1.5 in 2018 (57 goals allowed in 38 games) to 1.64 in 2019 (46 in 28).

With the Union, however, a part of the Jamaican's struggles might have to do with a tweak in the team’s gameplay, which is expected to adjust this season particularly with the addition of new personnel.

Internationally the player’s national team has made the CONCACAF Hexagonal round for the first time since the 2014 cycle and could be in line for a second appearance at the FIFA World Cup.  The Reggae Boyz finished runners-up on two occasions and then semi-finalists in the last three editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

“There’s a lot of soccer to play for club and country, there’s going to be a lot on the line,” Blake told the Inquirer

“I have to make sure I do everything to be ready, to stay sharp, to stay fit. I’m definitely looking forward to a big year, to do whatever it takes in the net when I’m with club and country to be successful and to help my team be successful,” he added.

 

The Jamaica national team coach Theodore Whitmore has revealed a friendly next month against the Spanish region of Catalonia will be used to assess players who could potentially represent the Reggae Boyz.

The historic match-up against the Catalonia squad will be one of two matches scheduled for the national team next month.  The Jamaicans are expected to play a match against Bermuda on March 11, before taking on the Spanish region on March 30. 

According to the federation, while the match against Bermuda is expected to consist of mostly local players, the match in Spain will consist of overseas-based players.

“One of the things we will emphasizing is the conditioning of the players and how they can operate in various positions,” Whitmore said of the friendly.

“There isn’t a lot to it.  It’s just for them to go out and enjoy themselves.”

The Reggae Boyz are currently ranked 48th in the world.  The Catalonia national football team is not affiliated with either FIFA or UEFA and is therefore not allowed to participate in either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship.  Since 1904, the team has played nearly 200 games against various national, regional and club teams.

 

Sports Minister Olivia Grange says all is set for the unveiling of the statue of Jamaican Olympian Asafa Powell on Sunday, February 9.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness will unveil the statue in a special ceremony at Statue Park in the National Stadium, beginning at 5:00 pm.

Minister Grange has invited the public to attend the ceremony and witness the unveiling of the statue.

Minister Grange said: “This is the final of four statues that we commissioned as part of the Jamaica 55 Legacy programme to celebrate the achievements of our outstanding athletes.

The statues not only highlight Jamaican athletic success but will serve as inspiration for all of us about what is possible when we try.

So I invite as many people as possible to join us on Sunday and celebrate with Asafa.

”The renowned Jamaican sculptor Basil Watson was engaged by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport to design statues in honour of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown and Asafa Powell.

 Reigning world record holder and soon to be dad Usain Bolt insists he would not encourage his children to follow in his footsteps.

The Jamaican sprint king, who retired from the sport in 2016, is considered one of the greatest athletes of all time.  News of the track star about to father a child perhaps for many conjured images of someday having the next generation of the Bolt family continuing his rich legacy.  Not, however, if the sprinter can help it.

“I’m going to say no, initially.  If they do, I will support it,” Bolt said in an interview with The Times.

“I think the pressure is going to be too much, especially at the level I left it. It’s going to be tough to follow,” he added.

Matching the feats of Bolt would indeed take some doing.  The athlete dominated the sport of track and field for over a decade, winning 8 Olympic gold medals and 11 World Championships.

“You have to wait until they get to a certain age to explain to them that people are going to expect a lot from you, because of what I’ve done in the past.  I’ll wait until the time is right to explain.”

Jamaica Reggae Girlz inspirational striker and captain Khadijah Shaw insists the team will not be discouraged by a performance that was on occasion overwhelming, during the recently concluded Concacaf Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

The Jamaicans managed to at least finish on a high with a 7-0 win over Caribbean rivals St Kitts and Nevis.  Some of their previous results were, however, far less impressive after opening with a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a 9-0 loss at the hands of Canada. 

With only two teams to qualify from the competitive group B Jamaica ended in third place on 3 points.  Despite some of the tough results, however, Shaw insists the historic World Cup qualifiers remain encouraged and vows the team will bounce back.

“The tournament didn’t go how we wanted but it’s important to stay positive.  We know we should have gotten better results against the other teams but at the end of the day that’s football you win some you lose some,” Shaw said.

“The objective was just to come out here and show what we could do and stay together as a team despite all the adversity,” she added.

“In life, you will have setbacks but it’s about how you get up and keep pushing is what defines you as a person and you just keep on learning.  The more you grow is the better you get.”

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