KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica, currently at number five in the Concacaf Nations League (CNL) qualifying standings with nine points, is well-positioned to achieve its twin-goal of booking spots in League A and the Gold Cup.
Still, a slip-up could easily cost the Reggae Boyz League A qualification were they not to end in the top-six of the standings, but Simpson is confident that the Boyz will achieve all goals.
“Before we started participation in the competition the format of the CNL was explained and shared with all players and staff, and we are confident of qualifying for League A and everyone knows the importance of a positive result in El Salvador,” said team manager Roy Simpson. Jamaica and El Salvador will meet in the final CNL qualifying fixture on March 23.
Simpson is aware that playing away in Central America is always a daunting proposition, and facing an El Salvador team with its back against the wall raises the stakes even higher.
“It is going to be a tough and a big game as the El Salvador team is in a situation that they need a positive result. Our players are aware and are ready for the challenge,” he reasoned.
In preparation for this crucial match-up, the team manager revealed that as part of the upcoming camp, a squad of mostly local-based players will take on their Under-23 counterparts in two games, which will serve as curtain-raisers for the Reggae Girlz’ friendly international matches against Chile on February 28 and March 3 in Jamaica.
“The preparation of the unit will commence mid-February with a local camp, two games are scheduled to be played against the U23 squad as curtain raisers for the games the females will be playing against Chile,” Simpson shared.
The senior team official noted that the ideal preparation scenario is to have a friendly international before heading to El Salvador, but hinted that this is a fading prospect at this time.
“It would be great (to have an international match), however, the international window is in March, which makes it very difficult to get all players who will be involved in the CNL game and a team fitting the style of play of El Salvador,” Simpson said.
He said while head coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore has identified a core group of players, the policy of keeping the door open for players to come and go remains in force.
“The addition, or non-inclusion of players, rests solely with the head coach and his assistants. However, the fluidity of the sport allows inclusion and exclusion of players,” Simpson agued.
He said as far as he knows, the technical team is still working on strengthening the group by providing coverage in all facets of the team.
“The unit is in a transition phase, so all areas need strengthening,” Simpson disclosed.
The Boyz manager notes that the team will head to El Salvador inspired by the success of their female counterparts who became the first from the Caribbean to qualify for a Fifa Women’s World Cup.
“The entire Reggae Girlz Unit must be commended for their historic achievement and the senior men’s unit draws inspiration from any positive situation that impacts the entire nation and the people of Jamaica.
“Interestingly, they will be at the World Cup in France and we will be at the Gold Cup in North America during the summer, two continents of the world will be dominated by our athletes, music and culture and that is just awesome… football is indeed for the people,” he ended.
Jamaica has maximum nine points from three rounds of CNL matches, but is pushed down to fifth by an inferior goal difference of plus 11 to teams sitting above.
Also with nine points are leaders Curacao (plus-21), Haiti (plus-16), Cuba (plus-14) and Canada (plus-14). Martinique, also with nine points, sits in sixth spot with a plus-7 goal difference.
El Salvador, meantime, is 14thin the standings with six points, and currently out of contention for League A and Gold Cup qualification, but a win against Jamaica could dramatically turn its fortunes around.