Reggae Boyz striker Shamar Nicholson and central defender Allyson Swaby were named by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) as their 2021 Male and Female Player of the year, respectively, on Monday.

Nicholson, who recently completed a move from Belgian Pro League team Charleroi to Russian Premier League outfit Spartak Moscow, scored three goals in 11 appearances for the Reggae Boyz in 2021.

The former Boy’s Town attacker has been in sensational form this season scoring 13 goals in 18 games for Charleroi before making the move to Spartak.

Swaby, who captained the Reggae Girlz for the first time this year, was part of a Roma team that won their first major Women’s trophy in May by defeating AC Milan on penalties in the Copa Italia final after keeping a clean sheet.

On December 21, it was announced that Swaby would be joining National Women’s Soccer League expansion team Angel City FC following the completion of the Supercoppa Italiana this January.

Nicholson will miss the Reggae Boyz January 20, friendly with Peru in Lima but could next be in action for the Boyz on January 27 when they play Mexico in a World Cup Qualifying fixture, while Swaby's Reggae Girlz will next see action in the CONCACAF Women's Championship beginning on February 17.

 

Scores of children turned out in the community of Rockfort in Kingston on Friday as the residents were treated to a Christmas treat by Reggae Boy Damion Lowe. 

The Jamaica vice-captain provided gifts to over 200 children at the Marcus Garvey Square on Glasspole Avenue. 

Accompanied by representatives of his local sponsors, Digicel, and members of his management team, the 28-year-old, who was the sole Jamaican named to the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI, handed gifts to the children as they came out in their numbers to greet him. 

The initiative is meant to be an inaugural event for the community that was also home to his father and former Reggae Boy, Onandi Lowe. 

Lowe considers himself blessed and wants to extend that to the residents of Rockfort. 

“It has been a good year for me; I know how important Christmas is to the little ones and this Treat will put a smile on their faces. I have to thank my sponsors Digicel for showing up in a big way by providing all the gifts,” said Lowe. 

“Hopefully next year, after the pandemic, we can have amusement rides for the children as well,” Lowe added.

Lowe currently represents Al-Ittihad in the Egyptian Premier League and has made 35 appearances for the Reggae Boyz, scoring two goals.

He was yesterday named in the Reggae Boyz squad for their friendly against Peru and will likely captain the team for the game with regular skipper Andre Blake being rested.

West Ham striker Michail Antonio was eager to represent Jamaica’s national team almost a decade ago but was overlooked for players in England football’s lower leagues.

Earlier this year, the England-born player was approached by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), regarding the prospect of representing the Caribbean nation, and agreed to switch nationalities.  Antonio qualifies to represent Jamaica, as both his parents were born on the island.

The striker, now 31, has confirmed, however, that it was not the country’s first attempt to recruit him and that he had in fact been contacted by the JFF while playing for Sheffield Wednesday in 2012.

“When I was 22, the manager of the Reggae Boyz, I can’t remember the name of him, came to Sheffield Wednesday to speak to players saying, ‘would you want to play for Jamaica?’ I said yes, I will come and play 100 percent,” Antonio said during an interview with Sport Bible.

“He said ok, I’ll give you a call, give you some information, bla, bla, bla.  He came and watched me play against Leeds that weekend.  I’m a very honest person, I had a stinker and I’m not going to lie, but I was an established Championship player.  I played in the Championship from 19 through to 25.  The next international break they were calling up players from League One and League 2, wingers, over me, which I didn’t understand,” he added.

In 2012, then president of the JFF captain Horace Burrell travelled to England along with head coach Theodore Whitmore and assistant coach Alfredo Montesso on a scouting mission to recruit players of Jamaican heritage.  Interestingly, Antonio played under Whitmore earlier this year, before the coach was fired in November.  

The player also dismissed reports that he was approached by the federation three years later while playing for Nottingham Forrest.  Insisting that neither he nor his agent ever received an offer at that point, despite claims to the contrary.

Antonio has been an instant hit since donning the country’s national colours, scoring twice in three games, which includes a 30-yard belter against the United States.  Despite the move coming late on in his career and leaving the England national team selection pool, he insists there are no regrets.

“It got to a stage where I just thought, ‘I'm not going to get called up’. I didn’t believe I was going to get the call.  There's loads of quality young strikers out there, he’s trying to build a team for the future. And that Tammy Abraham is young, Dominic Calvert-Lewin is young and Harry Kane is still quite young,” he added.

 “My mum was born in Jamaica and my dad was born in Jamaica. I went to Jamaica all the time when I was younger.  Why not try and see if we can get Jamaica to a World Cup after they’ve not been there for 20 years.

“No regrets whatsoever, I'm enjoying my football with them. And the difference with Jamaica, with England they got to the Euros final and stuff like that but with Jamaica, every achievement is a massive achievement.”  

Reggae Boy striker, Shamar Nicholson, will reportedly not be overly concerned by the noted issues of racism and xenophobia that have plagued Russian football for several years.

The 24-year-old forward recently secured a move to Russian Premier League club Spartak Moscow after spending two years at Belgian club Charleroi.  The move will represent a step up for the Jamaican player, with the Russian club routinely taking part in Europe’s top competitions.

Football in Russia has, however, been plagued by controversy in recent years with fans often known to direct racist and xenophobic chants towards players of different races who represent various clubs.  The issue had become so prominent in recent years that there was a campaign to address the issue ahead of the country's hosting of the 2016 World Cup.

However, according to Nicholson’s agent Kevin Cowan.  Issues pertaining to racism impact players everywhere.

"There is racism everywhere," Cowan told Voetbalkrant.com.

“That shouldn't be a factor. Shouldn't all players be playing in Italy or Russia otherwise?"

"Spartak came and wanted Shamar, then we are not concerned with possible racism. In the long run, he wants to go to an absolute top competition, but this is a nice step and a very nice club."

Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall says being reactive in transition and circulating the ball quickly will allow the team to get the forwards more involved.

Jamaica has struggled offensively in their World Cup Qualifying campaign so far only managing six goals in their first eight matches.

Hall says getting the ball forward is a priority but a balance needs to be found.

“What we need to think about is a balance with everything. We need to be able to get the ball forward, obviously. We’ve been using our full-backs to get forward and try to get crosses in,” Hall said.

One approach that the team has tried is to use a target-man approach with West Ham striker Michail Antonio. This was evident in the team’s 3-0 loss to Panama on September 5.

Panama countered that approach by putting two centre backs on Antonio and essentially taking him out of the game.

Hall, however, sees progress from his team where that style of play is concerned.

“I think you’re starting to see the team take shape. The ball is going up to Michail Antonio and it’s starting to hold. He’s starting to get some players to support him. We’re able to build a little bit more,” said Hall.

When questioned about the formation of the team going forward, Hall said his emphasis will be on style rather than position.

“I like to build play. I like to get midfield players on the half-turn, playing it forward. It’s not necessarily a formation, it’s a style so whether you play 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-3-3, the players all know what style they’re playing in. They want to be able to play one and two-touch, circulate the ball really quickly and make it difficult for people to get close to you so it’s really important that we get the work into the players,” he said.

Hall reiterated that while it will be difficult to implement all his proposed changes in the short term, there are still some general ways his team can improve their offensive output.

“Like I said, in the short term it’s quite difficult to make that happen straight away but there are things like reacting in the transition, winning the ball back quickly and getting the ball forward as much as we can in a controlled manner and really just being attacking-based. That for me is the way how you do it,” said Hall.

The Reggae Boyz have also conceded 10 goals in their eight matches and Hall says limiting mistakes on the ball is a way to solve the Reggae Boyz defensive woes.

“We have players who can keep the ball and receive the ball in those deep-lying midfield areas. We’ve just got to make sure we create situations for us to be able to not lose the ball and focus on that. Really focus on keeping the ball,” Hall said.

Jamaica currently sits sixth in the standings in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying with seven points from their eight matches.

Each team has played eight games so far with Canada atop the standings with 16 points ahead of the USA with 15.

Mexico and Panama are third and fourth with 14 each while Costa Rica is fifth with nine.

The Reggae Boyz next take on Mexico on January 27, 2022.

The top three teams at the end of 14 matches will advance to the 2022 FIFA World Cup while the team in fourth will advance to a playoff against a team from the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).

 

 

Reggae Boyz Head Coach Paul Hall says he wants the team to play attacking, possession-based football but noted that it will be difficult to change the personality of the team in the short term.

“It is very difficult to change the personality of a team in the short term because we’re looking for results and looking to pick a squad and a team that is going to get us results,” said Hall speaking at his introductory press conference on Monday.

 Hall explained the style of play he wants the team to exhibit under his leadership while once again indicating that the changes will take time.

“I do like to press high. I also like to make sure the team is attack-minded and play a possession-based style. How much of that we can get out of them in the short term is down to the work we can do beforehand, but tactically, we’re looking to press and counter-press and hopefully, in the five phases of the game, try to dominate the opposition.” Hall said.

The interim coach also said a change he will implement is centred around the team's wide play and the use of rotations when necessary.

“We could get our wingers to come inside, get our fullbacks attacking or the opposite way around and we could have rotations. I’m very much about rotations,” Hall said.

Hall took charge of the Reggae Boyz last week after the Jamaica Football Federation fired Theodore Whitmore. Whitmore lost his job after the Reggae Boyz only managed to win one of their first eight matches in the final round of qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and now lies sixth in the eight-team standings with seven points. Only six matches remain in the qualifiers and the Reggae Boyz are seven points off the top three, which are automatic qualifiers for the World Cup.

The Reggae Boyz will resume their campaign on January 27 against Mexico at the National Stadium in Kingston. The match will come seven days after the Reggae Boyz play Peru in an international friendly on January 20.

Jamaica international Adrian Mariappa has secured a surprise move to Australia Super League club Macarthur FC.

The 35-year-old defender had been without a club since May of this year, after being released by English Championship club Bristol City.  The player had, however, continued to show strong form with his country’s national team, playing in 6 games.

Mariappa was linked with a move back to England with Sheffield Wednesday, who are coached by another former Jamaica international Darren Moore.  The club reportedly offered the out-of-contract player a deal, but he opted for the Super League move instead.

For his part, Mariappa insists he is excited and looking forward to the new challenge.

“I want to thank the owners and the football staff for having faith in me and making this happen,” Mariappa said.

“When the opportunity to join the Bulls arrived, it was one I couldn’t turn down. It’s an exciting new challenge for me in my career and that for me is what I thrive off,” he added.

“I’m hungry to achieve great things with the club and create new memories with the team and the fans.”

Macarthur have won one and drawn one of their two games so far in the 2021/22 season.

Jamaica international Andre Blake has finished runner in the voting for MLS Goalkeeper of the Year an award he previously won twice.

Blake finished behind Matt Turner of the New England Revolution who helped the team to its first-ever Supporters’ Shield with a new single-season points record.

Turner secured a total of 43.60 percent of the vote, followed by the Jamaican shot-stopper who claimed 10.43.  Blake has posted another solid season for the Philadelphia Union getting a total of 13 clean sheets and a save success ratio of 76 percent.  Blake previously won the award in 2016 and last year when he finished ahead of Turner.

Turner set a new Revs franchise record with 17 regular season wins, which tied him for the overall MLS lead. The goalkeeper’s 1.25 goals-against average and 74.2 save percentage both ranked in the top-10 among goalkeepers with at least 24 starts, and his two penalty kick saves were the second-most in the league.

The votes are placed by MLS club technical staff, media, and current MLS players.

Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange has expressed her regrets of the news of the passing of former Reggae Boyz team doctor Carlton Fraser, who died in a Florida hospital on Sunday, November 21, at the age of 74.

Fraser, who was affectionately known as “Pee Wee” was also the former physician of Reggae icon Bob Marley.

“It came as a shock to me to hear that “Pee Wee” died. His service was outstanding as a doctor to the Reggae Boyz and to Bob Marley, who for many years was not only his patient but was his close friend,” Minister Grange said.

“In this way, one might say that ‘Pee Wee’, for life, was a major contributor to both sport and entertainment.

“He will also be remembered for being the only Rasta doctor of his time and a member of Twelve Tribes of Israel Rastafari religious group.  I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, friends, former associates at the Jamaica Football Federation and to the members of Twelve Tribes.

“Rest well, “Pee Wee”.”

 

Reggae Boy striker Michail Antonio says he is eager for more goals, having opened his account in a draw against El Salvador last week.

The West Ham star, who was making just his second appearance for the Jamaica national team, after switching from England earlier this year, needed only seven minutes to get on the scoresheet against the Central Americans.

Picking up the ball midway the opposition half, Antonio charged into the area before executing a trademark dink over the El Salvador goalkeeper in the 82nd minute.  The Jamaicans were forced to settle for a share of the points after El Salvador struck back in the 90th minute.  Having opened his account, the player is looking for more and hoping to do so against the region’s biggest teams.


It’s always good to get off the mark quite early.  So, you can release all the pressure off yourself and keep going and get more goals.  Hopefully, now that I’ve got one, I can keep going and get more,” Antonio said.

“Right now, my performances are getting better.  So, the only way I can show it is by doing it against the better teams, the USA’s and Canadas.”

Jamaica will play against the United States in a crucial encounter on Tuesday.

Jamaica Reggae Boy Liam Moore is hopeful the team can continue its recent trend of keeping clean sheets ahead of World Cup qualification encounters against El Salvador and the United States.

The Jamaican team got off to a rocky start to the qualifiers after conceding eight goals in its first six games.  However, the team’s fortunes have improved in the last two rounds after battling to a 0-0 draw with the competition’s top scorers Canada and securing a 2-0 away win over Honduras.

Moore missed that round of matches, which took place in September after suffering an injury, but the defender did, however, watch the matches while sidelined and is eager to make his contribution for the team as it looks to pick up where it off.

“I watched the games back in the UK while I was injured and I thought there were a lot of positives with the clean sheets,” Moore told TVJ Sports.

“Talking about moving forward now, it’s about trying to continue to grow from that.  So, we need more clean sheets and try to get as many points on the board as we can,” he added.

The Reading player has made five appearances for the Jamaica national team to date.

When the Reggae Boyz face El Salvador at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador on Friday, Reggae Boyz defender Damion Lowe is hoping for an important victory for more than one reason.

Jamaica international Andre Gray has called for English League clubs to show more respect to teams from Africa and the Caribbean, as it relates to players taking part in international competitions.

According to the forward, currently on-loan at Queens Park Rangers from Watford, players that are called up for countries from the CONCACAF and Confederation of African Football (CAF) often faced increased pressure as clubs regard the decision in a negative light.

By contrast, players being called up for the England team is viewed as a positive and attracts much less scrutiny.  In truth clubs and countries have often found themselves locked in conflict regarding the use of top international players during international windows. 

Most recently things came to a head when English League clubs attempted to block, and in some instances prevented players from travelling to Africa, South America, and the Caribbean due to travel restrictions and quarantine measures that were put in place.  In retaliation, the countries affected threatened to use their power under FIFA regulations to ban players for one league match.  

“If England call there is going to be no arguments.  The minute you get called up for Nigeria or Jamaica it’s an inconvenience and a risk to the club,” Gray said in an interview with The Athletic.

“It’s just a stereotype around it.  It is the same with AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), which is scheduled to start in January.  That has more respect around it now because of people like Mo Salah,” he added.

 

 

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe has expressed delight with opening his goal account for the Reggae Boyz after finding the net in a 2-0 win over Honduras but believes the team started gathering momentum in the previous match.

The Rangers striker found the back of the net, for a Jamaican team desperately in need of a win, in the 36th minute after successfully deflecting an attempt from strike partner Shamar Nicholson.  A defender, Oniel Fisher, scored the team's second in the second half.

The goal was the first for Roofe in four matches, having started the last two.

“It’s a special moment for all of us, getting my first goal for my country.  I want to dedicate this to my dad, he is the reason I am playing for Jamaica,” Roofe said.

“It was massive for the team to get the three points.  I think it all stems from the game against Canada.  We didn’t get the three points but we got the draw and we came out of that game with solidarity and belief and a lot of respect as well and we brought it into tonight’s game.”

The Reggae Boyz battled to a 0-0 draw with Canada at the National Stadium on Sunday.  The win sees Jamaica move to five points and 6th position, three points outside of the fourth spot, which is currently occupied by Panama.

The Jamaica Football Federation has revealed that Shamar Nicholson suffered a facial fracture during Charleroi FC’s 1-0 loss to Club Brugge in the Belgian Pro League on Sunday.

However, the player will be able to continue playing this season and in the upcoming world cup qualifiers with the use of a protective face shield.

Nicholson was forced to leave the field in the second half of the match after he was hit in the face during a violent collision with Brandon Mechele.

The striker jumped to head a ball on goal but Mechele,  the Club Brugge defender, in challenging for the ball, headed Nicholson in the jaw, rendering the Jamaican unconscious for a short time. Reports on the incident said Nicholson tried to play on after regaining consciousness but was unable to continue and was substituted.

Immediately afterwards, club officials feared Nicholson have suffered a broken jaw but were awaiting the results of additional tests. Their fears were proven valid as Reggae Boyz team manager Roy Simpson confirmed this morning that Nicholson suffered a minor fracture but will be able to continue playing this season with the use of a protective face shield.

Nicholson scored both of Jamaica’s goals in the Reggae Boyz first three World Cup qualifiers in the Octogonal round. He scored Jamaica’s only goal in Jamaica’s 2-1 loss to Mexico and scored the equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica in San Jose.

Jamaica’s next round of qualifiers begins on October 7 against the United States. The Reggae Boyz then take on Canada on October 10 before facing Honduras on October 13.

 

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