Leon Bailey a no-go as JFF names 30-man squad for Japan and Serbia friendlies in June

By May 13, 2021

Leon Bailey and Michail Antonio will not be available for the Reggae Boyz matches against Japan and Serbia that have been scheduled for June as Jamaica’s senior squad continues its preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and the World Cup qualifiers in September.

 Both players were excluded from a Jamaica 30-man squad because they have not yet signed wage contracts with the Jamaica Football Federation. As a result, neither player has been included in a 30-man Jamaica squad set to leave on May 30 for matches against number 28th ranked Japan on Thursday, June 3 in Sakura; 25th ranked Serbia on Monday, June 7 in Kobe, and the Japanese Olympic team on June 12 in Nagoya.

Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts revealed that the management of the Bayer Leverkusen winger has committed to signing his contract but they have yet to do so. “There is a little bit of tardiness on behalf of Leon and his management. They have not yet signed the contract. I think we would have gotten a verbal commitment that he would so in short order,” Ricketts said.

“Same thing goes for Michail Antonio. His agent has indicated that they have not yet gone through the document in its entirety so they will do so in short order as soon as they have gone through and are comfortable with the content of the document.

“So, we are hopeful that these contracts will be signed soon and based on indications from Coach Whitmore these players will be part of the set-up as soon as the contracts are signed.”

The JFF president said other players could also join the squad as soon as ongoing discussions have been successfully concluded.

Meanwhile, the 30-man squad will include Andre Blake, Dennis Taylor, Jaedine White, Dillon Barnes, Adrian Mariappa, Kasey Palmer, Amari Bell, Kemar Lawrence, Wesley Harding, Oneil Fisher, Alvas Powell, Devon Williams, Kevon Lambert, Ravel Morrison, Blair Turgott, Junior Flemmings, Damion Lowe, Luca Levee, Tyreek McGhee, Lamar Walker, Bobby Reid, Javon East, Shemar Nicholson, Cory Burke, Andre Gray, Jashaun Anglin, Ethan Pinnock, Michael Hector, Kevaugn Isaacs, Liam Moore.

Coach Theodore Whitmore said as the team approaches a crucial period in its preparation, the players are required to consistently bring out their best.

“This is an important year for the Reggae Boyz insofar as international competition is concerned. The CONCACAF Gold Cup is slated for July and the FIFA 2020 World Cup qualifiers will kick off in September. We will be very busy during the second half of this year,” Whitmore said. “We welcome the two matches against Japan and Serbia. These are important games to fine-tune preparations for the Gold Cup.

“We anticipate a very competitive roster. Each player, domestic and foreign-based, must use every available opportunity to perform and press their case for selection. We have spent the last three years looking, moulding and preparing. Now is the time to deliver.

“We need each player to challenge himself and take responsibility, to be accountable on and off the pitch for performance and conduct. The standards and expectations are high.”

Whitmore also commended the JFF and the players for settling the wage dispute which has now removed an obstacle from their period of preparation and urged Corporate Jamaica to support the team as he believes has the talent to achieve their goal of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Whitmore scored both goals in Jamaica’s 2-1 victory over Japan during the 1998 World Cup in France but the Reggae Boyz lost their encounter against the Japanese 1-0 in 2014.

Jamaica last played Serbia in 2017 and lost that match 2-1.

President Ricketts said the JFF is satisfied with the safety arrangements to be put in place for the three matches.

Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At SportsMax.tv he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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