As expected, Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey will start for Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz when they open their historic CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign at the National Stadium in Kingston on Monday night (8:30 pm, 9:30 pm Eastern Caribbean).

The nation of Jamaica helps kick off the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup with a stellar match that features its national team square up against Honduras in Group C action at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

The two are no strangers, as Monday’s encounter marks the 24thoverall meeting between the nations. This will be the fifth Gold Cup meeting, with each side holding two wins.

After finishing second in 2015 and 2017, Jamaica will hope third time’s the charm and could not ask for a better start than to play in front of its home fans.

Goalkeeper Andre Blake and defender Kemar Lawrence return to guide the sixth-youngest squad of the tournament.

One of Jamaica’s promising additions comes in the form of 21-year-old Leon Bailey, who has scored 14 goals with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen.

Honduras will have plenty to say about its own title hopes as it looks to reclaim the consistency that took it to semifinal appearances at the 2005, 2009, 2011 and 2013 editions.

After failing to generate a team goal at the previous edition, Honduras will lean on the attacking trio of Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto and Anthony Lozano to make its mark at this year’s event.

Former England youth international Ravel Morrison was surprisingly left out of Jamaica's 23-member squad for the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup from June 15 to July 7.

The 26-year-old midfielder was named in a preliminary 40-man squad last month after getting his Jamaican passport.

Morrison who qualifies to play for Jamaica through his mother was strongly touted as a future star for the Three Lions, but the former West Manchester United and Ham United player has failed to live up the confidence placed in him. He is currently playing for Ostersunds in Sweden.

As expected, Leon Bailey of Bayer Leverkusen is in the final 23-member squad. The 21-year-old winger has over the years rejected offers to play for his country, but had accepted the offer for the friendly international against the USA earlier this week. However, he did not make his debut in the match, which the Reggae Boyz won 1-0 in Washington.

The squad includes only four local-based players in midfielders Andre Lewis, Ricardo Morris and Tyreek Magee and goalkeeper Amal Knight.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have been drawn in Group C of the Gold Cup with Honduras, El Salvador and Curacao.

The Concacaf Gold Cup will be played in the Caribbean for the first time as a group-stage doubleheader takes place on June 17 in Jamaica at the National Stadium, the day when the Reggae Boyz will open their campaign.

The opening match at the National Stadium on June 17 will feature a clash between Curacao and El Salvador at 6:00 pm while Jamaica will go up against Honduras in an 8:00 pm encounter.

Jamaica's Reggae Boyz have played in the final twice. In 2015, the Reggae Boyz lost 3-1 against Mexico, while in 2017 they were beaten 2-1 by the United States.

Jamaica national men’s football team coach Theodore Whitmore believes a strong start against CONCACAF rivals on home soil could go a long way in determining how well the squad does in the upcoming edition of the Gold Cup.

This time around and for the first time in the tournament’s history, there will be matches held on Caribbean soil.  Jamaica will host El Salvador, Honduras and Curacao in Group C and Whitmore is eager to take advantage of the home turf.  While regarding El Salvador and Curacao as familiar opponents, the Reggae Boyz coach regards Honduras as more of an x-factor.

“We are looking forward to it. The only difference in our group is Honduras. We know the El Salvador team, we know the Curacao team, we have the Honduras team to play at home and we are looking forward to that game. A positive result in that game should set us on our way into the El Salvador and Curacao games,” Whitmore said in an interview with CONCACAF.com.

The Reggae Boyz have reached the final of the competition in the last two editions, where they lost to the region’s top teams Mexico and the United States.  The Caribbean team will be hoping to make a third trip this year, perhaps this time hoping to do one better.

“Nothing is impossible. We just have to work hard and make sure we get in a decent preparation and then in the tournament, we’ll see what we can do,” said Whitmore.

Discarded Jamaica international Christopher Humphrey, after announcing his retirement from football, has gone the management route. 

Jamaica international Leon Bailey sent a ripple of excitement through social media platforms after promising to wear the country’s national colours with pride and dignity.

The 21-year-old and his country’s football governors, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), were embroiled in a protracted dispute for the last couple of years, but recently announced the issues to be at an end.  The player has as a result been called up to a 40-man provisional team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and is expected to make his debut next month.

In previous seasons, talented young Jamaica was linked with a move to several top-flight clubs, including Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United.  Despite a slower season than his 2017-2018 campaign where he scored 12 goals, Bailey still netted five times as the team sealed fourth place and European football in the Bundesliga. 

With his full focus now on the national team, however, Bailey has promised to wear the Reggae Boyz colours with pride and further hopes to serve as a role model.

“I promise to wear the colours black green and gold with honour, pride, and dignity while aiming to be a positive role model for kids with a dream,” Bailey post via social media platform Instagram.

   Jamaica are set to open the Gold Cup on June 17 against Honduras in Kingston in the first Gold Cup match to be played in the Caribbean.

El Salvador are through to the next round of the CONCACAF U17 Championship after getting the better of Jamaica’s young Reggae Boyz in their round-of-16 clash at the IMG Academy Field 11 on Wednesday.

El Salvador ran out 2-1 winners courtesy of 45th opener from Styven Vasquez and a strike that put the game out of reach from Jorge Flores in the 70th minute of play.

The Reggae Boyz would pull one back from Rajay Wright in the 82nd minute.

The two teams were close in a number of areas, with the El Salvadorians taking their chances and making the difference between the teams.

The first goal of the game, for instance, was an absolute howler after Vasquez, swinging a cross into the box, must have thanked his lucky stars with the delivery making a mockery of goalkeeper, Shamar Haffendon’s position.

The Reggae Boyz would not get back into the game after that.

Jamaica and Honduras will be joined in Group C by El Salvador and Curacao in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup set to kick off on June 15 and conclude on July 7.

Former Jamaica Reggae Boyz midfielder Jobi McAnuff has insisted he could not play with Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci, following the player’s recent controversial comments after teammate Moise Kean was racially abused.

Bonucci, the Juventus captain, claimed blame could be apportioned 50-50 after Kean was subject to monkey chants from sections of the Cagliari crowd and celebrated in front of the fans after scoring.  The defender does not believe, the 19-year-old Moise should have celebrated in front of the spectators.

 “It’s disappointing in this day and age with everything that’s happened, we still have to go through incidents like this,” McAnuff said on The Football Show (TFS).

“The Juventus situation, for me, if my captain had come out said those things, me as a black player, I couldn’t play under him again. It would be that serious for me,” he added.

“It’s great now that players are taking a stand and it’s because they have to because there’s not enough being done by authorities around the world and for me, the next step is going to be leaving the field of play.”

Bonucci, who saw his comments widely criticized, later claimed the statement was ‘misunderstood’ and that any form of racial abuse was unacceptable.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are now the seventh-ranked team in CONCACAF after dropping a place on account of defeats to El Salvador and Costa Rica in the recently-concluded CONCACAF Nations League qualification tournament. 

The Jamaica national team is slated to face the United States in a friendly international scheduled for June 5 at the Audi Field in Washington.

The match will serve part of both team’s final preparations for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will kick off on July 15.  The match will be the first between the teams since the United States defeated Jamaica 2-1 in the 2017 Gold Cup final.

The USA has traditionally dominated the fixture, with the Jamaicans having to wait until 2012 to record their first win in 25 games.  The Jamaicans, however, also eliminated the United States from the semi-finals of the 2015 Gold Cup, before going on to lose to the United States.

The teams have had contrasting results in their last couple of matches.  The United States registered comfortable 3-0 and 2-0 wins over Panama and Costa Rica, respectively, while Jamaica suffered losses to El Salvador and Costa Rica.

Jamaica are currently 54th in the FIFA World Rankings. Mexico (17th), the U.S. (25th), and Costa Rica (37th) are the only higher-ranked CONCACAF teams.

Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore insists the team does not want to drop its usually high standards, heading into the Gold Cup, on the back of a poor performance against El Salvador at the weekend.

An uncharacteristically poor performance in the Concacaf Nation’s League, at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador on Saturday saw the team fall to a 2-0 loss.  The loss was the first for the Jamaica team in the competition, prior to that scoring Cayman Islands, 4-0 at the National Stadium in Kingston in their opening game followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Bonaire in Curacao and a 2-1 victory against Suriname at Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay.

“The Gold Cup is coming up and the team did very well by reaching the finals in the last two editions in 2015 and 2017, and we don't want to drop that standard,” Whitmore said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“I also want to give everybody here a chance to see what they have to offer which will help us in the selection of the Gold Cup squad,” he added.

The Reggae Boyz are undefeated in Nations League qualifying with three victories after beating Cayman Island 4-0 at the National Stadium in Kingston in their opening game followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Bonaire in Curacao and a 2-1 victory against Suriname at Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay. 

National Under-20 standout for Jamaica, Nicque Daley, is now a Charleston Battery player after signing a four-year deal with the United States Soccer League outfit. 

Striker Dever Orgill is among 17 overseas-based players called to a 23-man Reggae Boyz squad for the Nations Cup match against El Salvador on March 23, and an international friendly against Costa Rica on March 26.

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