Jamaica men’s football national coach Theodore Whitmore has admitted to being awed by the talent of the Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey but more so the player’s positive attitude and work ethic.

The 21-year-old underwent a tumultuous couple of years relating to his involvement with the national, as a dispute with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) kept him off the field.  All that seems to be firmly behind the parties involved, however, as by all accounts, the player has fit into the Reggae Boyz squad with little fuss.

“We've been very impressed with Leon Bailey from day one as his attitude around the group has been simply fantastic. He's definitely a team player and the group has embraced him very well. This was important given all the noise over the past few years around his selection to the national team,” the team’s head coach Theodore Whitmore told the Jamaica Observer.

Bailey was expected to make his debut for the national team in a friendly against the United States but did not play due to an injury.  According to Whitmore, however, the player is not ready to go.

“On the pitch, Leon has been sizzling. He is now fit and raring to go. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, he should line- up at the start of the game on Monday. We still have a few more sessions to go, but his production at all the sessions has been spot on,” Whitmore said.

“He is ready to make his international debut for Jamaica and will play with not only his talent but also his heart. This is what I sense in him since his arrival to the group… he's a really talented young man and very coachable.”

 

Jamaica’s sprint hurdles queen Brigitte Foster-Hylton has come out in praise of Janeek Brown, who broke her 16-year-old national record on Saturday.

Decorated Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce sounded a warning to her rivals after registering an impressive season's best and meet record to claim the women’s 100m title at the Racers Grand Prix meet, in Kingston, on Saturday.

In trademark style, the pocket rocket, as she is commonly known, blasted away from the field before stopping the clock at 10.88.  Fraser-Pryce led wire-to-wire and finished a third of a second ahead of second place Jonielle Smith and Michelle-Lee Ayhe who both clocked 11.20.

The win was the third in a row at the meet for the diminutive Jamaican but more importantly, she believed the result puts her in good shape ahead of the country’s national trials.

“This is my third victory here and honestly I’m happy with the time of 10.88 as I’ve always wanted to lower the meet record to under 11 seconds,” said Fraser-Pryce. “I couldn’t have asked for more and I’m really looking forward to the national trials in two weeks.”

In the men’s equivalent, Great Britain’s Zharnel Hughes just about covered the field to win the men’s 100m in a season’s best of 9.97 (0.9m/s) ahead of Yohan Blake 10.01 and Kendal Williams 10.13.

Bahamian quarter miler Shaunae Miller-Uibo was admittedly displeased with her performance at the Racers Grand Prix meet, despite destroying a quality field to claim the women’s 400m title in Kingston, on Saturday.

In just her second race in the event this season, Miller-Uibo clocked a respectable 49.54 seconds, not as fast as her opening run of 49.05 set in Florida, back in April, but more than good enough for a new meet record.  The time bettered the previous best of 50.52 set by American Allyson Felix in 2017.

 In fact, Miller-Uibo finished more than a second ahead of reigning World Champion Phyllis Francis, with the American crossing the line in 50.85.  Jamaica’s Chris-ann Gordon was third in 51.83. 

The reigning Olympic champion just proved to be a different class than the rest of the field on the day and had the World Champion Francis well covered by the 100m mark.  She proceeded to leave the American and the rest of her opponents fighting for the minor places by the top of the stretch.  The Bahamian, however, seemed to have been expecting a better performance.

“I think today wasn’t really a good run,” she said following the race.

“I’m working on a lot of things trying to perfect my race but I’m happy I finished healthy which is important.”

Jamaica women’s football team coach Hue Menzies is already plotting a quick recovery for the national team following a 3-0 loss to Brazil, on their FIFA Women’s World Cup debut, on Sunday.

The Reggae Girlz put in a creditable performance against their noted South American opponents but were in truth short of any real answers, on the heels of a three-goal blitz from Cristiane Rozeira.  The result put the Jamaicans at the bottom of a tough four-team Group C, hardly the ideal start, but the coach was quick to insist the team has plenty yet to play for.

“We’re still in it.  We just have to look at fixing our back line and let’s get Bunny (Khadijah Shaw) more involved,” Menzies said.

Shaw the team’s top scorer was indeed mostly a fringe figure, with sporadic touches on the ball throughout the fixture, but proved to be a menace when she did manage to get possession. 

The forward’s fierce 30th-minute strike was just tipped over the top by Brazilian goalkeeper Bárbara and she saw a 50th-minute header drift just wide of the target.  Menzies insisted the loss would not be a major setback and pointed to the fact that the team recovered from a tough situation to seal it historic qualification for the World Cup.

“We’ve lost games before, we just have to pick it up and get after it.  We lost to Canada got back and beat Costa Rica. So we just have to pick it up and get back in the business.”

Jamaica will next tackle Italy on June 14 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims.

Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz got off to a tough start to the FIFA Women’s World, following a 3-0 humbling at the hands of top 10-ranked team Brazil, at the Stade des Alpes on Sunday.

Despite the absence of many-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year Marta, the South Americans proved to have too much firepower for the World Cup debutantes.  The experienced Cristiane Rozeira’s, who netted a hat-trick, proved to be a more than an adequate deputy.

The Brazilians entered the game on the back of a nine-game winless streak but any jitters they may have felt were settled early on.  Rozeira gave the South Americans the lead in the 15-minute with a well-timed header that flew wide of Jamaica custodian Sydney Schneider.

Schneider, who would have plenty to do throughout the contest, came up big to ensure the Jamaicans did not fall further behind when she dove smartly to her right to stop Andressa Alves’ 40th-minute penalty. 

The reprieve would, however, be short-lived as Rozeira increased the lead when she slid in at the back post to tap in from close range five minutes into the second half.

The brilliant Brazilian would well and truly end the game as a contest with a sublime bit of talent in the 64th minute.  The forward’s stunning freekick, from just outside the area, curled over the head of Schneider to smack the underside of the crossbar before bouncing just over the line.  The tally marked the 8th hat-trick and 91st  goals of her career. The Jamaicans pressed well late on but could not find their debut goal.

Veteran Brazilian Formiga became the first player to appear at seven editions of the Women's World Cup and the oldest to feature in the tournament when she lined up against Jamaica on Sunday.

The 41-year-old midfielder plays her club football for Paris Saint-Germain and came out of international retirement to give herself a chance of being involved in this summer's tournament.

She was duly selected by Brazil boss Vadao, who did not hesitate to put her at the base of his midfield for the team's opening Group C match in Grenoble.

Her inclusion in the starting XI at 41 years and 98 days saw her overtake Christie Rampone's record. Rampone played for United States in the 2015 competition at the age of 40 years and 12 days,

In the men's game, the record for the most World Cup selections is jointly held by German great Lothar Matthaus and the Mexican pair of Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Marquez, who each played in five tournaments.

In the Women's World Cup, Japan's Homare Sawa played in six tournaments for her country.

Formiga's first World Cup came in 1995 and the closest she has come to being a champion was in 2007 when Brazil lost to Germany in the final.

Rising Bundesliga talent Leon Bailey has expectably been named as part of a 23-man squad for this month’s CONCACAF Gold Cup.

After months of speculation, the 21-year-old failed to make an expected debut for the national team in friendly international against the United States earlier this week.  The winger, however, is on course to make an appearance against Honduras at Jamaica’s National Stadium on July 17.

Bailey will be joined in the squad by seasoned campaigners Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks and Je-Vaughn Watson with outstanding goalkeeper Andre Blake tasked to lead from the back.  Damion Lowe, some of the former national player Onandi Lowe, has also been included along with promising youngers Peter Lee Vassell and Tyreek Magee.

The Jamaicans have been placed in group C of the tournament alongside Honduras, El Salvador and Curacao.  The team will begin the tournament on June 17 with a match against Honduras.

Jamaica Gold Cup squad

Goalkeeper ANDRE BLAKE

PHILADELPHIA UNION (USA)

Defender JAMOI TOPEY

BETHLEHEM STEEL FC (USA)

Defender MICHAEL HECTOR

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY FC (England)

Midfielder ANDRE LEWIS

PORTMORE UNITED FC (Jamaica)

Defender ALVAS POWELL

FC CINNCINATI (USA)

Forward DEVER ORGILL

MKE ANKARAGUCU SK (Turkey)

DEVER AKEEM

Forward LEON BAILEY

BAYER 04 LEVERKUSEN

(Germany)

Forward MAALIQUE FOSTER

RIO GRANDE VALLEY FC (USA)

Midfielder RICARDO MORRIS

PORTMORE UNITED FC (Jamaica)

Forward DARREN MATTOCKS

FC CINNCINATI (USA)

Forward SHAMAR NICHOLSON

NK DOMZALE (Slovenia)

Forward JUNIOR FLEMMINGS

PHOENIX RISING FC (USA)

Goalkeeper DWAYNE MILLER

SYRIANSKA FC (Sweden)

Defender SHAUN FRANCIS

LOUISVILLE FC (USA)

Midfielder JE-VAUGHN WATSON

OKC ENERGY (USA)

Forward PETER LEE VASSELL

LA FC (USA)

Defender DAMION LOWE

IK START (Norway)

Forward

BRIAN BROWN

RENO 1868 FC (USA)

Midfielder TYREEK MAGEE

HARBOUR VIEW FC (Jamaica)

Defender KEMAR LAWRENCE

NY RED BULLS (USA)

Midfielder KEVON LAMBERT

PHOENIX RISING FC (USA)

Midfielder DEVON WILLIAMS

LOUISVILLE FC (USA)

Goalkeeper AMAL KNIGHT

UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST

Shamar Nicholson's long-range stunner saw Jamaica upstage the United States 1-0 ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

In a rematch of the 2017 Gold Cup final won by USA, Jamaica emerged triumphant courtesy of Nicholson's first international goal at Audi Field on Wednesday.

Nicholson came off the bench and beat Zack Steffen with a memorable strike from outside the penalty area in Washington as both teams stepped up their preparations for the upcoming tournament.

Playing without Chelsea-bound star Christian Pulisic as head coach Gregg Berhalter gave players a chance to stake their Gold Cup claims, USA made a strong start but struggled afterwards.

USA put Jamaica, who had Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey among the substitutes, on the backfoot during the early exchanges – the hosts enjoying success down the right side.

However, Jamaica eventually settled into their rhythm as the half petered out, with neither team creating any clear-cut chances.

Jamaica looked the more likely to score as the match wore on after Peter-Lee Vassell almost broke the deadlock with a curling effort in the 56th minute.

But Jamaica got the goal they deserved thanks to substitute Nicholson in memorable fashion four minutes later.

Nicholson cut inside and back out again before firing a stunning long-range shot past Steffen, who is set to join Manchester City before reportedly heading to Fortuna Dusseldorf on loan.

 

What does it mean? Unbeaten run over

USA's undefeated streak under Berhalter came to a halt. After wins against Panama, Costa Rica and Ecuador, and a draw with Chile, Jamaica stopped the run. Fortunately for Berhalter and USA, it comes prior to the Gold Cup.

Relax… Berhalter experimenting

USA fans, it is not so bad. While a loss is unwanted, it comes as Berhalter experimented with his starting line-up ahead of the midnight deadline for the Gold Cup roster. He will have a clearer picture of who to include in the 23-man squad.

Lack of ideas

While it was a chance to try new things, the manner in which USA faded would have frustrated Berhalter. After an impressive and high-octane start, the home nation were outplayed and struggled to keep up with Jamaica at times.

What's next?

USA will conclude their Gold Cup preparations against Venezuela on Sunday before the country's tournament opener against Guyana on June 18. Meanwhile, Jamaica will next play Honduras on June 17 – their first match of the Gold Cup.

The Jamaica Olympic Association has appointed retired Olympic sprinter Michael Frater O.D. as president of a newly created Athletes’ Commission.

Tissana Hickling registered a massive leap to claim the women’s long jump title at the Jamaica All Comers meet on Saturday, in the process registering the best mark for a Jamaican in the event this year.

The 21-year-old registered an impressive 6.82 in the first round, far and away the biggest jump of the competition.  In fact, the mark put her comfortably ahead of Chanice Porter who led the early Jamaican efforts with 6.73 registered in Guadeloupe earlier this year.

Hickling, who represented GC Foster College, was one of only four athletes to go over 6 metres, also registering the second-best throw of the competition with 6.42m in the third round.  The effort would put Hickling sixth in on the world’s top rank list this year.  German jumper Malaika Mihambo leads the pile with a leap of 6.99 set in February of this year.  Serbian Ivana Spanovic has registered the same mark, which was set in Glasgow in March of this year.

 

 

Jamaican athletes attending US colleges could find themselves in a bit of a predicament if they manage to qualify for the IAAF at the Jamaican national championships set for June 20-23.

Former Jamaica Prime Minister, Premier League Clubs Association (PLCA) president and chairman of Tivoli Gardens Football Club, Edward Seaga, died on Tuesday at the age of 89, after a battle with cancer.

In addition to being the leader of the country between 1980 and 1989, Seaga was well known for sizeable contributions to countless aspects of Jamaican life, particularly sports and culture. 

For several years, Seaga served as president of the Tivoli Gardens Sports Club and was a constant fixture on the sidelines of football, basketball and netball teams for several years. 

His achievements at the helm included five national premier league titles for the football team and the development of the Edward Seaga Sports Complex, at the Railway Oval in Tivoli Gardens, which served as the home base for the teams.

Tivoli Gardens was the community Seaga had, almost single handedly built, and it was the centre of much of his political power, as his work in that community helped him become the longest sitting Member of Parliament in the country's history.

Later on, Seaga served as chairman of both the Premier League Club Association (PLCA) and the recently dissolved Professional Football Association of Jamaica (PFAJ).

National Triathlete Llori Sharpe is one of three Caribbean athletes selected to participate in the UWI-CDB-Regional Emerging Athlete Development Programme in Barbados next month.

Twenty-six-year-old midfielder Havana Solaun is the final player selected to Jamaica’s Reggae Girlz squad that will campaign in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France next month.

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