Former Jamaica Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Ryan Thompson has questioned the practice of labelling the country’s national representatives as foreign-based or English-based in light of questions regarding the team’s unity.

In recent months, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has looked to bolster the experience and quality in the team’s ranks by extending an invitation to players who qualify to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican heritage.  Several players have accepted the offer but the team's overall integration has not gone smoothly.

The situation was similar to the team’s historic 1998 campaign when a mix of players, some based in Jamaica and English players of Jamaica heritage qualified the unit for the tournament in France.  Ahead of its historic feat, there had also been controversy surrounding the inclusion of the players who were based abroad.

Internationally, players opting to represent countries where they were not born is hardly an unusual situation.  The likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Benteke, and Raheem Sterling, who was born in Jamaica but represents England, are among just a few who feature on the list.

As it relates to the current crop, however, Thompson believes the aim must be to get the team to gel as soon as possible, a goal that having player labels and categories is unlikely to help.

“If we can get the team to gel and call everyone Jamaican and not local based or foreign-based or English based, whatever it is, that’s when we will really be able to do some damage in the world, not just the Caribbean,” Thompson told TVJ Sports.

‘You don’t hear the German team talking about, oh this guy was from Austria or the US saying the same thing about German-based players.  They're Americans, why are we throwing labels on our players?”

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.

The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will be without two key members of the squad heading into Wednesday’s crucial qualifier against Honduras with both defender Alvas Powell and forward Jamal Lowe ruled out of the encounter.

Powell, who started but did not finish Sunday’s encounter against Canada, has been diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring strain and will not be able to take part in the match against Honduras.  Typically deployed at right-back, Powell began the game at centre back. 

Regular last man Damion Lowe had been ruled out of the counter based on an accumulation of cards.  Lowe will return to the line-up for the upcoming encounter.

Meanwhile, Lowe will be returning to Championship club AFC Bournemouth based on an agreement ahead of the qualifying round.  The player started against the United States and came off the substitute’s bench against Canada.

With just two points from their first five matches the team currently sits at the bottom of the table, Honduras who are also yet to secure a win are one point above the Jamaicans in the standings.

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.

 

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have been hit by another injury ahead of next month’s round of World Cup qualifiers with forward Cory Burke ruled out of the matches.

The 29-year-old player was a hardworking physical presence at the top of the line-up for the team in the first three fixtures of the final round, against Mexico, Panama, and Costa Rica.

The player, however, went down with an injury during a recent training session and while it was hoped that he would have not missed more than a few days, the prognosis puts the striker’s recovery period at six weeks.

The Jamaican national team will resume competed in the qualifiers with a match away to the United States on October 7th.   The other two matches for the round will include a home game against Canada three days later and end with an away trip to Honduras.

The team has been hit by bad injury news in recent weeks with forward Shamar Nicholson also a doubt for the round after suffering a broken jaw.  Winger Leon Bailey will also not be available after suffering a thigh injury while in action for Aston Villa.  Reading’s Liam Moore is also likely to be unavailable after spending a few weeks on the sidelines after also sustaining an ankle injury.

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) petitioned the Jamaican government to allow some fans into the National Stadium for upcoming home World Cup qualifiers.

The Reggae Boyz will be back in action next month when they tackle the United States on October 7 and play their second home game of the qualifiers against Canada.  The Jamaicans had a chastening start to their home campaign, following a 3-0 home loss to Panama earlier this month.

Due to existing coronavirus protocols, the match was, however, played in front of an empty stadium.  The JFF, however, hopes to have at least some fans for next month’s second round.  Based on the local football body’s proposal only a limited number of fans will be allowed to attend the match, and they must provide proof of vaccination in order to be able to do so.

The Reggae Boyz, who are looking to get to the World Cup for the first time in over 23 years, find themselves at the bottom of the eight-team group after the first three games.  The Boyz opened with a 2-1 loss away to Mexico before the damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama.  The team, however, got the board with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

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.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have fallen 20 points in the latest FIFA Coco-Cola World Rankings following a dismal start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualification campaign.

The national team began the hexagonal round with a 2-1 loss to the region’s top-ranked team Mexico but followed that up with a heavy 3-0 loss at home to Panama.  The team then ended the first round with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

As far as rankings go, the poor start has proved costly with the team currently ranked at 59th and outside of the world’s top 50 teams for the first time in several years.

In the meantime, teams like Canada and Panama who are off to a strong start to the final round have headed in the other direction.  After jumping 16 places, Canada is now ranked above Jamaica at 51st, with Panama jumping 23 points to 68th

Mexico remains the region’s top-ranked team at 9th, followed by the United States at 13th and then Costa Rica at 44th.  The World Cup qualifier will resume next month with Jamaica travelling away to face the USA, hosting Canada at home before travelling away to face Honduras.

 

 Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz got their first points of the CONCACAF World Cup final round, with a hard-fought 1-1 draw to Costa Rica, which was a tale of two halves.

Costa Rica went ahead early, but Jamaica found an answer to force the teams to split a point Wednesday at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica took the lead in the third minute when Bryan Ruiz weighed up a beautiful ball for Jonathan Moya on the back post. The attacker Moya spotted Jimmy Marin making a run and used his head to set Marin up for an easy shot over the line, with Jamaica GK Andre Blake still working to defend a potential shot from Moya on the post.

Yet, Jamaica was able to find an equalizer just after the halftime break. Left-back Kemar Lawrence got into the final third with the ball and plenty of space in the 47th minute and teed up a cross for Shamar Nicholson. Nicholson didn’t hit his header entirely cleanly, but that seemed to flummox goalkeeper Keylor Navas, and Nicholson was off to celebrate his second goal of World Cup qualification.

Costa Rica was on the break again in the 68th minute, with Marin breaking free, but his touch took him too wide and Jamaica was able to recover from the danger.

There was danger on Navas’ net in the 87th minute, with the former Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year making a pair of interventions, including using his legs to sweep away a ball that Javon East was attempting to control in the box.

It’s the first point Jamaica has earned in qualification, with the Reggae Boyz set to look for more points in October when they travel to face the U.S.

 Costa Rica’s first match of the October window is away to Honduras and the Ticos will look to add to the pair of points they amassed in September.

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.

Panama stayed undefeated in the Final Round of Concacaf World Cup qualification for Qatar 2022 with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Jamaica on Sunday at Independence Park in Kingston.

Panama now has four points after Sunday’s win and last Thursday’s opening 0-0 home draw versus Costa Rica, while Jamaica is still searching for its first point of qualification following Sunday’s result and Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico.

Panama opened the scoring in the 14th minute through an unlikely scorer. Center back Andres Andrade stepped into the centre circle and picked off a pass, but rather than find an attacker, he opted to dribble forward and fire off a shot before he got into the penalty area. The attempt surprised Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake, and Panama was off the mark, 1-0.

Panama looked for a second in the 35th minute, with Jose Luis Rodriguez getting the ball in the box and looking to curl a shot past Blake, but the Jamaican shot-stopper had the shot in his sights and made the stop. Two minutes later, Rodriguez turned provider, putting in a cross of his own for Rolando Blackburn, whose header also ended up in Blake’s hands.

But Blackburn used that as experience to double the lead in the 39th minute, beating Liam Moore to an Eric Davis cross and sending his header past Blake to give the Central Americans the 2-0 lead heading into the halftime break.

Jamaica manager Theodore Whitmore made a pair of changes at halftime, bringing Junior Flemmings and Devon Williams into the contest and also made another pair of subs in the 73rd minute, including inserting Shamar Nicholson, who scored in the 2-1 loss to Mexico, for Michail Antonio, who made his Jamaica debut on Sunday.

Jamaica had perhaps its best chance of the game in the 77th minute, with a shot from Nicholson forcing Panama GK Luis Mejia into action. But moments later, it was Panama on the counter-attack, and midfielder Adalberto Carrasquilla played in Cecilio Waterman, who sent his finish past Blake to tie a bow on the victory for Panama.

Jamaica closes out the window with a trip to Costa Rica, while Panama will put its undefeated record on the line against Mexico in Panama City.

 

 

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.

 

An understrength Jamaica Reggae Boyz will begin their bid to return to the FIFA World for the first time in 23 years with a match at the world-renowned Estadio Azteca, against familiar opponents Mexico, on Thursday.

In response to the UK’s quarantine rules, as it relates to travel to nations that have been added to the red list, the English Premier and English Football Leagues made the decision to not release players for World Cup Qualifiers in those countries.

The league’s issues stem from a mandatory 10-day quarantine period that players would have to undergo once they return to England.  The stipulation would see players missing at least two games with possibly more time required to get up to fitness standards.  

 While Jamaica itself remains in the amber zone, which involves much less stringent restrictions, Mexico and Costa Rica who the team will face in away contests this round are both in the red zone.

In response, the Jamaica Football Federation has named a large 35-man squad, with all the English-based players set to miss out on the fixtures against Mexico and Costa Rica.

The players based in the English leagues will rejoin the squad for the team’s match against Panama on Sunday, where among them West Ham striker Michail Antonio is expected to make his debut.

Against Mexico, at the Stadio Azteca, it has not been a happy hunting ground for the Jamaicans, who have drawn once and lost 5 times in 6 matches.  The team's lone point came in a 0-0 draw in 2013.

Despite not having a full-strength squad at his disposal, however, Theodore Whitmore, who was in charge of the team on that occasion believes the team could repeat the feat.

“I am very disappointed not having the full complement of players, but the show must go on. We know the challenges we face; we have a game to play. We have to prepare ourselves as best as possible going into this game,” Whitmore said.

“I wouldn't say pressure because every game the national team plays everybody expects positive results, good performances.  I don't think these games coming up are an exception. We are looking forward and we want to put the best team out there at all times and we are looking forward to a good result against the Mexico team.”

Mexico will also not have some of its top attacking players such as Raúl Jiménez, from EPL team Wolverhampton, and Hirving Lozano, from Napoli (Italy) and will also not have Héctor Herrera, from Atlético de Madrid, present in the midfield.  The Mexicans will also be forced to play in front of an empty stadium after being sanctioned by FIFA for homophobic chants earlier this year.  The match will kick off at 9:00 pm.

 

Jamaica Squad vs Mexico: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Dillon Barnes (Queens Park Rangers), Dennis Taylor (Humble Lions), Damion Lowe (Al-lttihad), Adrian Mariappa (pending), Alvas Powell (Philadelphia Union), Kemar Lawrence (Toronto FC), Devon Williams (Miami FC), Junior Flemmings (Birmingham Legion), Cory Burke (Philadelphia Union), Shamar Nicholson (Charleroi), Oniel Fisher (LA Galaxy), Blair Turgott (Ostersund), Norman Campbell (FK Cukaricki), Ricardo Morris (Portmore United), Anthony Grant (Swindon Town), Tyreek Magee (Eupen), Lamar Walker (Miami FC), Peter Vassell (Indy Eleven), Javon East (Santos de Guápiles), Romario Williams (Qadsia SC), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps), Richard King (Cavalier).

Rest of squad: Michail Antonio (West Ham United), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa), Liam Moore (Reading FC), Amari’i Bell (Luton Town), Wesley Harding (Rotherham United), Ravel Morrison (Derby County), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford City), Kevin Stewart (Blackpool), Bobby Reid (Fulham), Jamal Lowe (Swansea City), Kemar Roofe (Rangers).

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