Captain Lowe says squabbles with JFF must end if Boyz are to make World Cup 2022

Sport editor

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

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Damion Lowe has asserted that if the Reggae Boyz are to give of their best on the pitch, and possibly qualify for the 2022 Qatar Fifa World Cup Finals and do well at next summer's Concacaf Gold Cup Tournament, then the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the players must engender a cordial relationship.

Lowe, captain of the Reggae Boyz team in their recent, two-match, friendly international series against Saudi Arabia in Riyadh made the comments in an interview with the Jamaica Observer shortly after his team rebounded with a come-from-behind 2-1 win in the second game last Tuesday, after a humiliating 3-0 loss in the first game three days earlier.

Head Coach Theodore Whitmore was forced to select an ill-prepared team for the first game, as a number of players arrived in the Middle Eastern country later than planned, thus delaying their quarantine and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test protocols and ruling them ineligible for the game.

Additionally, the disjointed nature of players-arrivals also resulted in only a solitary training session on the pitch prior to the game, after the players were confined to their rooms for the better part of three to four days.

There were also public spats between players and the local governing body about remuneration and travel arrangements, which at one stage threatened to wreck the tour.

But in an almost miraculous turnaround, the Boyz proved the better team in the second game and would have won by a much wider margin had it not been for their profligacy in front of goal.

That fight, resilience and fortitude gave Lowe more than a glimpse of what can be achieved by the team, if they are properly prepared and rid of unnecessary distractions going forward.

“We decided to take the risk to come and play so being uncomfortable was expected. It's unfortunate that some players contracted the virus [COVID-19] and we wish them steady recovery, but all in all we are grateful that we ended the series on a positive note…I felt like we built a bond among the group to stick together regardless of the situation and keep focus,” said Lowe.

He added: “We just have to build on this, especially from admin to player relations because the vision is to get to the 2022 World Cup, so we have to build on this, it's very important.”

But Lowe, son of former Reggae Boy Onandi, was peeved at the distractions and pointless sideshows which preceded a ball being kicked on the training pitch.

“To be honest, it's very frustrating, but I've told the administration it's not going to go on any longer, we need to get issues out the way before camps, before tours, so we can come in and focus only on football.

“Over the years it has been a situation where we come, negotiate, strike. Stuff like that won't get us to the World Cup; won't get us playing well; won't get us focused! We have new players coming in every time, and if we want to attract more players interested to play for the national team, we have to make sure that everything is set, so when they hear about what's going on in the national team they want to come and play,” the central defender said in a no-nonsense manner.

Lowe said he has “stressed that the players and the administration must see eye to eye and have to come to agreements and must have a good relationship” so the players can be able to do their best on the pitch.

“As much as people are saying we focused too much on this or that, if the foundation isn't set, if the players aren't comfortable, we won't be able to perform at our highest, regardless.

“But it's a work in progress; we ended the tour on a positive note, we got the win, guys are recovering from the virus, it was an injury-free tour. So to the JFF, let's go back to the drawing board now and for 2021 going in the World Cup qualifiers, going into the Gold Cup and the friendlies coming up, it shows that we have a really good team, so it's up to them to know what they really want for the country and what they want also for themselves.

“Is it always going to be, okay, the JFF is good enough to run an organisation or is it going to be that the JFF is doing its utmost best to prepare us for the qualifications?” Lowe concluded.

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