Coach Whitmore's approving words spell confidence


Coach Whitmore's approving words spell confidence

Saturday, July 06, 2019

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We note Mr Theodore Whitmore's contention that “the future of Jamaica's football is bright” following the Reggae Boyz 1-3 loss to the United States in the Concacaf Gold Cup in Tennessee on Wednesday night.

That's so, despite his expressed displeasure at aspects of his team's play not only in the loss to the United States but also in the lead-up games.

Indeed, the Jamaica national team had done better in the previous two editions of the Gold Cup — beaten finalists on both occasions.

We suspect that the youthfulness of this Jamaica team and the competitions scheduled for them leading into Concacaf World Cup qualifiers next year had much to do with Mr Whitmore's air of optimism.

Consider his comment to this newspaper: “We have a young set of players here, so going forward we know what we have. So now we have to focus on 2022 World Cup qualification, and that is right around the corner. Then and there we are supposed to know exactly where we want to go and what we want to achieve going forward.”

As the situation now stands, six of those just returned from the Gold Cup will be eligible for the squad — most players are under age 22 — which leaves within days for the Pan Am Games in Peru.

A Jamaica women's national football squad will also be seeking glory in Peru.

The men's squad at the Pan Am Games will very likely form the core of the Olympic squad (Under-23) which, later this year, will seek to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.

In short order, too, the Reggae Boyz will open their competition in the second tier of the Concacaf Nations League — a crucial prep for the World Cup qualifiers.

Importantly, Nations League games will be played on FIFA-approved dates for international football which will allow Mr Whitmore to call on overseas-based professionals.

In that regard, Jamaican football fans will be very pleased at the approving words from the coach regarding the performance of the highly rated Mr Leon Bailey, who plays professionally for German club, Bayer Leverkusen.

Readers will recall that up to not too long ago the chances of Mr Bailey representing his native Jamaica appeared slim at best, because of persistent squabbles involving his management team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Mr Whitmore's comments during and after the Gold Cup appeared to suggest that Mr Bailey — who entered the tournament having just recovered from injury — had blended well with colleague players and showed good progress in his contributions on the field.

Said the coach on Wednesday night: “I think as the tournament progressed you could see that this was one of his better performances tonight (Wednesday). This is the Bailey people know.”

Mr Whitmore will also be happy that upcoming games in the Concacaf Nations League should allow him to see a number of overseas professionals — several based in Britain — who have expressed an interest in playing for Jamaica.

On the evidence of the Gold Cup there are a few vacancies to be filled.

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