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.

 

Guyana convincingly recovered from an opening-round loss to Trinidad and Tobago with a 4-0 win over the Bahamas in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.

Goals from Terrence Vancooten (8th), Kadell Daniel (54th), Oman Glasgow (75th), and Emery Welshman (81st) gave the Golden Jaguars a comfortable win, with The Bahamas slipping to a second straight loss and remaining at the bottom of the group.  The win saw Guyana move to third place in Group A, behind second-place T&T and early leaders St Kitts and Nevis.

Elsewhere, Belize also registered a big win with a 5-0 win over Turks and Caicos Island in Group E.  Belize were led by a brace from Carlos Bernárdez (45+3, 48) with addition goals from Jesse August (47th), Deshawon Nembhard (81) and Deon McCaulay (90+1).   The win sees Belize move second behind leader Nicaragua on goal difference and ahead of third-place Haiti.  

A brace from Kane Critchlow (36th, 80th) also ensures that Bermuda were also among the big winners of the round as they registered a 5-0 win over Aruba in Group B.  Other goals in the match came from Jaylon Bather (40th), Dante Leverock (57th), and Knory Scott (64th).  The win moved Bermuda to third spot behind leaders Canada and second place Suriname who both have 6 points.

In other results, Barbados registered a 1-0 win over Anguilla in Group D, Grenada secured a 1-0 win over the US Virgin Islands in Group A, and St Vincent and the Grenadines secured a 3-0 over British Virgin Islands in Group C.  The goals came from Oalex Anderson (10th), Zidane Sam (20th), and Azinho Solomon (86th).

 

 

 

  

 Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) director of football, Wendell Downswell, believes the continued absence of the country’s youth football programs and competitions will have a devastating impact on the sport over the next few years.

All official football competitions across Jamaica have been shuttered since March of last year, as the island battled to come to grips with the spread of the deadly coronavirus.  Included in that list are the island’s Premier League competition and all high school football competitions.

Both competitions typically cater to the need of developing players Under 21 years old who are selected for youth national teams and even acquire scholarships to overseas colleges through them.  

With the recent decision by FIFA to postpone the 2021 U-17 and U-20 World Cup and CONCACAF’s decisions to postpone the respective qualifiers, things are essentially at a standstill.

“You won’t see it immediately but in years to come, probably starting in 2023, you will see the results as it relates to our youth football itself,” Downswell told Football GPS.

“Youngsters if you look at it, in three categories, in four categories, at high school you have the U-14, Under-16 and of course the Manning Cup and DaCosta Cup.  At the parish level, you have the Under-15 competition, at the club level, you have the Under-14 competition that takes on an international flavor.  If you look from there you make the transition into the Under-15, Under-17, and the Under-20 national teams and you are looking at both sets of national teams, male and female," he added.

"If we look at it from the perspective that the schoolboy football competition has been abandoned because of COVID, you know the schoolboy competition provides us with a means to identify talent at both the schoolboy level and club level and when that’s not forthcoming it put a damper on our football.”

 

 

 

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