General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, has welcomed the implementation of Video Assistant Replay (VAR), which will be used for the final six games of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

Prior to this, Concacaf was one of only three nations not making use of the technology, alongside AFCON (Africa) and Oceania, and were hampered in their efforts to do so by not only technological restrictions but also due to a lack of certified officials.  With both issues rectified since the start of the year, the way is now clear for the replay system to be implemented.

In its absence, the competition has been plagued by what some believe to be high-profile refereeing errors.  Against the United States with the game tied at 1-1, Jamaica defender Damion Lowe’s header, which flew into the net 7 minutes from time, was controversially ruled out for what appeared to be very little contact with US defender Walker Zimmerman.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With the country well behind on points in their pursuit of three and a half qualification spots, three points instead of one could have made a huge difference.  Wint hopes that in the future such costly errors can be avoided.

“I think it (decisions like that) is one of the major reasons CONCACAF decided to implement it.  It is really important to get the major decisions right,” Wint said of the upcoming technology upgrade.

There have of course also been times when the technology may have gone against the country notably when Lowe was himself yellow carded for a last-ditch challenge on USA player Brenden Aaronson, although the call might have been marginal at best.

“I’m all for it.  If you have the technology, then why not use it.  You can’t have it both ways, at times it may slow the game down, but it is important to try and arrive at the correct decision.”

The Reggae Boyz, who are currently in 6th place in the eight-team standings and 7 points behind the final qualifying spot, will resume their qualification campaign against Mexico on January 27th.  

 

 

 

Preparations are advancing for the Video Assistant Replay (VAR) replay system to be installed at Jamaica’s National Stadium, with a site visit expected to take place early next week.

Production and audiovisual company MediaPro, which is already in charge of broadcasting all Concacaf events, will be responsible for implementing the technology in Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.  The other four venues, which do not have the technology installed.

The move follows up on the decision by CONCACAF to implement VAR for the region in September, but the move was held up not only by logistical considerations but also by adequately certified officials.

In recent weeks, however, football’s world governing body FIFA has accredited referees, as well as VAR assistants and managers.  Prior to that, only the United States, Mexico, and Canada had VAR officials as they were the only ones to make use of the technology in their various leagues.

Implementing the technology in Jamaica will incur an added expense as the equipment will have to be flown to the island before being installed at the country’s national stadium.  The other CONCACAF venues taking part in the Octagonal round, which do not have yet the technology, can be accessed via roadways.  The majority of the bill will be picked up by Concacaf.  Jamaica will resume World Cup qualification action against Mexico, at the National Stadium, on January 27th.

Jamaica Reggae Boy defenders Alvas Powell and Damion Lowe are the only players to be included in the annual CONCACAF Team of the Year, announced by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).

Based on the statistics accumulated for the period Powell, who spent the majority of the season with Major League Soccer (MLS) club Philadelphia Union, before moving to FC Cincinnati, was selected as as the region’s best right back.

Lowe, who plies his trade for the Egyptian club Al-Ittihad was named as part of the team’s reserves.  Back in August, the defender was named as part of the CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI.

The list was dominated by Mexican players, with four members of the El Tri squad named to the line-up.  Club America goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa was named in goal, Edson Álvarez takes his place in the backline, Hector Herrera was put in midfield, and Hirving Lozano upfront.  Three Canadians Cyle Larin, Jonathan Davis, and Bayern Munich’s Alphanso David have also been included in the XI.  The list is completed by three players from the United States who are represented by Bruce Aaronson, Weston McKenie, and Miles Robinson.

Named among the substitutes, alongside Lowe, are Matt Turner (USA), Tajon Buchanan (Can), Rogelio Funes Murray (Mex), Ricardo Pepe (USA), Julia Araujo (USA), and Sebastien Vargas Mexico.  Lowe and Powell have been crucial parts of Jamaica’s World Cup squad.  The team, who would best be suited for a 4-3-3 formation, would be coached by Mexico’s Javier Aguirre.

 An Alex Roldan goal in the 90th minute canceled out a Michail Antonio goal in the 82nd minute as El Salvador and Jamaica both netted a point
after battling to a 1-1 draw on Friday at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador.
The first half ended scoreless despite a sequence in the 39th minute off a corner kick in which El Salvador attempted two long-range shots, both of which hit the crossbar above
Jamaica GK Andre Blake.

Jamaica thought it may have had the winner with Antonio scoring his first-ever Jamaica goal late in the second half for a 1-0 lead. The attacker took the ball on the left-hand side of attack and charged forward, beating a pair of Salvadoran defenders and then GK Mario Gonzalez with a clever chip over the onrushing shot-stopper.

 Yet El Salvador still had something to say about the outcome of the match and found the 1-1 equalizer.
Roldan, wearing the captain’s armband, got into the box in the 90th minute and headed in a cross from the right-hand side, with the ball tucking under the crossbar and going in.

Next on the slate for El Salvador is a visit to Panama City to meet fellow Central
American rival Panama, while Jamaica heads back to Kingston where it welcomes the United States.

 

Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore is impressed with the team’s camaraderie, after using an extra day to prepare for the team’s World Cup qualifier against El Salvador on Friday.

In recent months questions had been raised regarding the team’s sense of togetherness on the back of a rumoured rift between locally born and Uk-born members of the squad.  That narrative has, however, shifted on the back of two solid performances against Canada and Honduras in the previous round of matches.

Heading into Friday’s encounter Whitmore is eager to see that trend continue heading into the upcoming round of games.

“I’m very pleased with the enthusiasm of the players.  The camaraderie is good, the vibes in the camp is good and I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far,” Whitmore said.

The team arrived in El Salvador on Monday, in order to be able to squeeze in an extra training session for the team.

“We are looking forward to the final session and the game.”

The Jamaicans who got their campaign slow start are looking to build momentum on the back of their first win of qualifiers, which came against Honduras in the previous round.  The team is currently 6th in the eight-team standings on 5 points, 3 outside of the qualifying spots.

Around 5000 fully vaccinated fans will be allowed to attend the Jamaica Reggae Boyz upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States after the country’s government reversed its previous position.

Earlier this week, it was announced that a request by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to allow fully vaccinated fans into the country’s National Stadium for the first time since the start of the qualifiers had been denied.

The team’s previous home matches against Panama and Canada were played in front of an empty stadium due to the country’s existing Covid-19 protocols.  The JFF attempted to rectify the situation by implementing plans and protocols that would allow some fully vaccinated patrons to enter the match.  Initially, the proposal was rejected by the government who cited concerns regarding the ability of the entities to ensure proof of vaccination for patrons.  Following an emergency meeting, at the JFF headquarters on Thursday, however, the parties have now reached an understanding to allow the stadium to be occupied at around 14 percent capacity, consisting of fully vaccinated fans, for the encounter.

With only 12.4 percent of the country’s population fully vaccinated, however, the number of patrons who will be able to take advantage of the opportunity remains to be seen.  The vaccination rate is one of the lowest in the region and lowest among the countries participating in the final round.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will face another empty stadium for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against the United States, after a request for permission to have fully vaccinated fans attend the game was denied by the government.

The Jamaicans are scheduled to face the United States in a crucial encounter on November 16, as the team looks to push itself back into contention for a spot at next year’s World Cup. 

So far, the team is the only country not to allow fans into the stadium, in some capacity.  However, with an estimate of just 12.4 percent of the population being fully vaccinated Jamaica also has the lowest rate of any nation in the final round and is the only one below 20 percent.

According to a recent press release the denial was based on concerns regarding the capacity and logistics required to ensure that only vaccinated persons were allowed inside the stadium.  The decision caught Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) boss Michael Ricketts off guard as, according to him, the football body had harboured optimism of having fans return in some capacity for the upcoming round, following positive talks with government entities.

“We had discussions with persons from the Ministry of Health and we would have put our ID unit in motion.  In fact, one suggestion was that we would merge both ID entities so that once you apply for a ticket the JFF could say to you we can or cannot verify your vaccination,” Ricketts told TVJ.

“We put everything in place, all the plans.  We made several site visits.  We were working closely with IPL on how to have the patrons seated.  We had a meeting and went through all the protocols and that gave us the confidence that we would have been permitted to have fans.”

The government has indicated, however, that the proposal is under review and the request could be granted in time for the January round of matches. The team is currently in 6th place on 5 points, three outside of an automatic qualifying spot.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumpstarted their fading hopes of qualifying for the Qatar World Cup following a 2-0 away win over Honduras, at the Estadio Olimpico, on Tuesday.

Goals from Kemar Roofe and Oniel Fisher gave the team their first win of the campaign, a result that lifted the Jamaicans from the bottom of the table for the time in six games.  Heading into the encounter both teams were in desperate need of a win, with Honduras beginning the match just a point above the Jamaicans in 7th place.

After dominating the early opportunities, it was Roofe who put the Jamaicans in the lead after redirecting a shot from Shamar Nicholson into the back of the net in the 38th minute.  The home team battled to get back on level terms but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Fisher made the game safe for the Jamaicans with a well-taken effort in the 79th minute.  Having joined the attack, the right-back collected a layoff from substitute Andre Gray before curling a shot around Honduras goalkeeper Luis López and into the net.

  Jamaica’s campaign to earn a spot in Qatar continues with a trip to El Salvador to open the November international window, while Honduras hosts Panama.

A scoreless draw between Jamaica and Canada on Sunday at Independence Park in Kingston took Jamaica to a pair of points thus far in the final round of World Cup qualification, while Canada earned its second consecutive away draw and now sits on seven points.

After an even first half, things heated up in the second 45 minutes. Canada had a chance just after the ball started rolling again before a Jamaica free kick in the 50th minute taken by Kemar Lawrence was met by Junior Flemmings, who hit the post with a header.

In the 80th minute, Jamaica’s Kemar Roofe led a counter-attack and tried his luck from outside the box with a strong right-footed effort, but narrowly missed the upper 90 of Canada GK Maxime Crepeau’s net.

 Canada kept pushing for the breakthrough goal as well, with chances in the 84th minute when Alistar Johnson was unable to get his effort on target after a nice build-up, followed by an opportunity in the 86th minute when Alphonso Davies pulled a few tricks out of his bag, but ultimately ran into the Jamaican defence in the area.

Lawrence once again drew Crepeau into action as the match ticked into the final minute of stoppage time, but the Canadian shot-stopper made the save to preserve the point.

Jamaica now hits the road again, travelling to face Honduras. Canada will play its first home match of the October FIFA window on Wednesday, welcoming Panama to BMO Field in Toronto.

 

Defender Kemar Lawrence and forward Norman Campbell have joined the rest of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz after facing immigration issues upon arrival in Costa Rica.

Lawrence and Campbell were initially denied entry into the South American country on arrival based on residency documentation issues.  Based on the country’s immigration laws four groups of countries can enter the country with or without a visa.  Group one states that citizens of these countries do not require a Costa Rican visa. They only need a valid passport with at least one day left on arrival in Costa Rica with a return ticket.

Lawrence is a United States green card holder and Campbell is a citizen of Slovenia.  Residents of both countries are in the group allowed entry into Costa Rica without a visa.  Lawrence, however, lost his official green card documentation during the Gold Cup.   

Campbell's visa was expired, and Costa Rica immigration did not accept evidence of his Slovenian residency.  He did not have a Slovenia passport in his possession.  Since losing his documents Lawrence has received written permission to travel in the form of a stamp in his passport from US Homeland Security.  It was, however, not accepted by the Costa Rica embassy.

Assistance was, however, sought through diplomatic channels, through Jamaica’s Ambassador out of Mexico with responsibility for Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Ambassador in Jamaica, as well as Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, the Honourable Olivia Grange. The efforts eventually led to the relevant government minister in Costa Rica signing off on allowing both players to enter the country.

The Jamaican team has had a torrid start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers following a narrow 2-1 loss to Mexico and 3-0 thrashing at home at the hands of Panama.  The team will look to get things on track in tomorrow night’s encounter against Costa Rica at 8:00 pm.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz defender Damion Lowe has taken solace in the fight and effort shown by the team, despite a late loss away to Mexico in the opening round of World Cup qualifiers, and is confident it augurs well for the team going forward.

The Jamaica national team seemed well on its way to securing an unlikely point at the renowned Azteca stadium, after a 65th minute Shamar Nicholson strike brought them on level terms.  It was, however, not to be as Mexico’s Henry Martin restored the home team’s advantage in the 89th minute.

The result left the disappointed Jamaican’s without a point, but having headed into the game without some of its first-team players being available the battling display at a venue where not many come away with anything could serve as a sign of encouragement.

“We are disappointed with the result but with the performance, the guys put out there, yes there is always room for more, but the guys showed lots of character,” Lowe said.

“The guys fought hard and that’s going to separate team getting points and qualifying for the World Cup, rather than just losing a game or buckling and being afraid,” he added.

The team’s best result at the venue was a 0-0 draw in the 2013 qualifying campaign, Jamaica will look to bounce back against Panama in their first home game of the qualifiers, at the country’s National Stadium.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz forward, Shamar Nicholson, has insisted a goal inside the world-famous Azteca stadium was scant consolation as the team was extremely disappointed to lose late on to Mexico in the opening round of the World Cup qualifiers.

On Wednesday, Nicholson’s well-taken equaliser, scored in the 65th minute, gave the less than full-strength team plenty of belief that they could leave Mexico with at least a share of the spoils.

Although they seemed well on their way to doing so, those hopes were cruelly dashed with less than five minutes remaining when Henry Martin put away an opportunistic finish in the 89th minute.

“It was devastating, to lose the game with just five minutes remaining was really shocking for the team,” Nicholson said.

“The good thing is we don’t have much to think about the game that has passed.  The main focus is the one coming up on Sunday.”

The team will be eager to bounce back with maximum points against Panama at the country’s National Stadium on Sunday.  Their central American opponents have proven stubborn opposition in the past, however, and Jamaica has won just 2 of its last eight games against them.  Jamaica did win the last encounter between the teams, a 1-0 triumph at the 2019 Gold Cup.  The Boyz will also be buoyed by the return to line-up of several of its UK-based contingent who were unable to take part in the Mexico fixture due to the country's UK travel red-list status.

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) could be breathing a sigh of relief as the country remained on the amber list in the latest update of the United Kingdom’s Traffic Light System, which applies to travel to and from the country.

Earlier this week, the Premier League announced that, based on the current quarantine rules, it would not release players for the upcoming round of World Cup qualifiers to countries on the UK’s red list.  It was later joined by the La Liga and Serie A competitions and yesterday, England’s second tier, the EFL also joined the list of clubs.

The concerns stem from the fact that players returning from red-listed destinations would, based on the rules, be forced to quarantine for 10 days.  The leagues argue that those conditions would lead to players missing games, in addition to having to make up for fitness requirements.

Unless an agreement can be worked out the decision will impact the availability of several teams competing in the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, which kick off on September 2.

At current, Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica are the teams that have been placed on the red list.  The USA, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Honduras are all on the amber list, while Canada has been moved to the green list.

Individuals returning from red list countries are required to quarantine in a managed hotel for 10 days and are subject to at least two COVID-19 tests.

Fully vaccinated individuals travelling to countries on the amber list would be subject to taking a COVID-19 test two days after arriving or before.  Non-vaccinated individuals returning from countries on the amber list would have to undergo the mandatory 10-day quarantine period.

Based on the interpretation of the rules and the club’s specific stipulation of not allowing players to travel to red list countries, the CONCACAF countries on the amber and green list could potentially have their players available.  Baring a change of circumstances, affected countries on the red list would be left short-handed.  However, vaccine stipulations, which it seems are required to exempt individuals from mandatory quarantine, could complicate things.

Jamaica has at least 10 players who ply their trade between the Premier League and England Football League (EFL).  Among the EPL players are Andre Gray (Watford), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), and potentially Michail Antonio (West Ham) who recently received official documentation after switching from England.  It is currently not known how many of the team's overseas players are vaccinated.

 

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will begin the Hexagonal final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers away to Mexico City at the famous Azteca Stadium.

Four days later they will host Panama at Kingston’s National Stadium, before travelling to Costa Rica two days later to close out the first round of games.

The opening round of games will take place between September 2-8.  The Jamaicans will be the only Caribbean team in the final round of the qualifiers.  The Reggae Boyz, along with Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, and Honduras automatically advanced to the final round based on their FIFA rankings.  Panama, Canada, and El Salvador took part in an additional round to reach the final stage.

A face-off against CONCACAF’s top-ranked team will be a tough start for the Jamaicans who will be looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.  The Jamaicans have never won a match at the venue but came away with a point from a 0-0 draw the last time the teams met there, in the qualifiers, in 2013. 

The game will, however, be hosted with no fans, after the team was ordered to play their next two official home games behind closed doors, as a consequence of anti-gay chants heard during matches against the Dominican Republic and the United States, played in Guadalajara on March 18 and 24.

The team was also fined $65,000 and further sanctions were threatened, including a possible points reduction.

 

 

CONCACAF Hexagonal Round fixtures

 Matchday 1 - Thursday, September 2

  • Canada vs. Honduras
  • United States vs. El Salvador
  • Panama vs. Costa Rica
  • Mexico vs. Jamaica

Matchday 2 - Sunday, September 6

  • United States vs. Canada
  • El Salvador vs. Honduras
  • Costa Rica vs. Mexico
  • Jamaica vs. Panama

Matchday 3 - Wednesday, September 8

  • Canada vs. El Salvador
  • Honduras vs. United States
  • Panama vs. Mexico
  • Costa Rica vs. Jamaica

Matchday 4 - Thursday, October 7

  • Mexico vs. Canada
  • Honduras vs. Costa Rica
  • El Salvador vs. Panama
  • United States vs. Jamaica

Matchday 5 - Sunday, October 10

  • Jamaica vs. Canada
  • Mexico vs. Honduras
  • Costa Rica vs. El Salvador
  • Panama vs. United States

Matchday 6 - Wednesday, October 13

  • Canada vs. Panama
  • Honduras vs. Jamaica
  • El Salvador vs. Mexico
  • United States vs. Costa Rica

Matchday 7 - Friday, November 12

  • Canada vs. Costa Rica
  • Honduras vs. Panama
  • El Salvador vs. Jamaica
  • United States vs. Mexico

Matchday 8 - Tuesday, November 16

  • Canada vs. Mexico
  • Costa Rica vs. Honduras
  • Panama vs. El Salvador
  • Jamaica vs. United States

Matchday 9 - Thursday, January 27, 2022

  • Honduras vs. Canada
  • United States vs. El Salvador
  • Costa Rica vs. Panama
  • Jamaica vs. Mexico

Matchday 10 - Sunday, January 30, 2022

  • Canada vs. United States
  • Honduras vs. El Salvador
  • Mexico vs. Costa Rica
  • Panama vs. Jamaica

Matchday 11 - Wednesday, February 2, 2022

  • El Salvador vs. Canada
  • United States vs. Honduras
  • Mexico vs. Panama
  • Jamaica vs. Costa Rica

Matchday 12 - Thursday, March 24, 2022

  • Costa Rica vs. Canada
  • Panama vs. Honduras
  • Jamaica vs. El Salvador
  • Mexico vs. United States

Matchday 13 - Sunday, March 27, 2022

  • Canada vs. Jamaica
  • Honduras vs. Mexico
  • El Salvador vs. Costa Rica
  • United States vs. Panama

Matchday 14 - Wednesday, March 30, 2022

  • Panama vs. Canada
  • Jamaica vs. Honduras
  • Mexico vs. El Salvador
  • Costa Rica vs. United States

St Vincent and the Grenadines will play a second consecutive home match away from home, with its upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Cuba booked for the Kirani James Athletics Stadium, in Grenada.

The match, which was originally scheduled for the Arnos Vale Stadium for June 8, however, existing protocols, including quarantine, means that it would not be possible for the country to host the event.  The match is set to kick off at 4 pm, the St Vincent and the Grenadines versus Cuba encounter will precede Grenada against Montserrat, which takes place at 7 pm.

Prior to this round, St Vincent and the Grenadines played a home ‘match’ against the British Virgin Islands at the Ergillo Hato Stadium in Willemstad, Curacao.  The Vincy Heat emerged 3-0 winners from the match.

The team is just one of several who will see their fixtures altered as countries around the region continue to battle the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Other teams expected to be playing their upcoming home matches away are Aruba, the British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, Anguilla, and Puerto Rico.

With two matches played in the first round of the qualifiers, St Vincent and the Grenadine are currently third in Group C behind Curaçao and second place Guatemala.

 

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