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Ricketts looks beyond successful CNL campaign

...hopes to get into Hexagonal of World Cup 2022 qualification

Observer Writer

Friday, November 22, 2019

CATHERINE HALL, St James — President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Michael Ricketts is happy that the Reggae Boyz had achieved their primary objectives in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League (CNL) , but warned that the next phase of the job programme was to qualify for the Hexagonal Round of the World Cup qualifying next June.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer before Monday night's 1-1 draw against Guyana in their final CNL Group C game at Montego Bay Sports Complex, Ricketts said the JFF was pleased with the progress made.

He said, however, that Jamaica have found themseleves “between a rock and hard place” as they continue the search for suitable opposition for friendly games between now and then.

Jamaica won their first five games in the competition and secured promotion to CNL A, as well as booking a place in the Concacaf Gold Cup 2021, underlining the team's first set of pre-tournament targets.

“It's a job well done... we had set out these targets and we have attained them and now the next hurdle is to get into the Hexagonal round for World Cup qualification,” Ricketts said.

The top-six teams in Concacaf at the end of June 2020 will qualify for the play-offs for the Fifa World Cup and Ricketts said Jamaica was on course.

“We are on the path to doing that, but we must make sure we maintain our top-six position in Concacaf, and once we do that, when the 'Hex' starts next year we would be in,” said the JFF boss.

The Boyz, ranked 45th by Fifa, are rated third in Concacaf behind the USA and Mexico and are ahead of Costa Rica, Honduras and Canada.

Ricketts pointed out that if the team can maintain their place in the top-six at the end of June next year, they would qualify for the final round of qualifying for the Fifa World Cup scheduled for the desert nation of Qatar..

The search for teams to play friendly internationals was on in earnest, but Ricketts admitted it was a delicate situation where they were hoping to strike a balance between getting quality opposition and maintaining and even improcing the eanking.

“We have had very preliminary discussions with one team in particular, but we have to be strategic as we don't want to play tough teams that will beat us and we lose our position. But at the same time, we want to play good teams so we have quality opposition,” explained Ricketts.

“So we are caught between a rock and a hard place and we have to navigate ourselves through.”

Whether the games will be played at home or away will depend on various factors, Rickletts noted.

“It depends on how cost effective it will be to stage these games; of course it cost us to host games and most times we lose money when we play games here, but we want our fans to see our team in full flight, so we will be strategic and once it is possible and feasible from an economic standpoint, then we will play here... but the alternative would have to be overseas,” the JFF head ended.