Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have established themselves as genuine title contenders in the flagship Concacaf Gold Cup.

Over the three consecutive editions, the Jamaicans were beaten finalists in 2015 (3-1 to Mexico) and 2017 (2-1 to the United States), and were losing semi-finalists in 2019 (3-1 to the U.S.), performances that underline their pedigree in the biennial tournament.

Having come so close to being crowned champions, the only thing left for the Reggae Boyz at this stage it seems is to lift the trophy.

Still, veteran Damion Lowe says while the team will be targeting the title, it’s a goal they aim to pursue with an air of cautious optimism, and with as little pressure as possible.

“There is no pressure because people always write us off, and even now people don’t give us the recognition that we deserve and how good we are as a team, especially in tournaments,” he said.

“Nobody expected us to become a powerhouse in Concacaf as we started from scratch and built the programme,” Lowe added.

When Jamaica kick-starts its Group C campaign against Suriname at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on July 12, Lowe notes that the plan is to let the country’s football do the talking.

“So for us, the job is the same and that’s to prove people wrong. We will do our best and let the football speak for itself,” said the Al-Ittihad defender, who will be participating in his third Gold Cup tournament.

Lowe, 28, says he has grown to love playing in the Gold Cup.

“Playing in the Gold Cup tournament is always a joy. We are grateful for the experience and how far we have come as a nation and we just want to move on to higher heights,” he said.

The Jamaicans, who are currently hosting a pre-tournament training camp in Orlando, have quality within their ranks with the likes of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon and Bailey and former Manchester United wonder kid Ravel Morrison.

With the pair, plus a host of English-born players and local-bred talent, the Boyz are quite capable of ruffling more than just a few feathers in the 2021 edition of the confederation’s marquee competition.

The Boyz also have group stage matches against Costa Rica and Guadeloupe.

Meanwhile, Lowe says he is still getting used to life playing in the Egyptian topflight.

 

Jerome Waite, the assistant coach to the Jamaica senior football team is to be assigned to another national team following a decision of the Board of Directors of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Waite is to be replaced by Merron Gordon, a past assistant coach at the National Under 23 level and former Head Coach for the Senior women's team. Gordon will join the recently appointed Assistant Coach Paul Hall in this position. Both assistant coaches will join Head Coach Theodore Whitmore at the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup.

There is no word on where Waite will end up.

The decision was taken to re-assign Waite at the quarterly board meeting held on Tuesday, June 29, after it approved a recommendation from the Technical and Development Committee (T&DC).

Coach Waite had previously served at the National Under 20 and Under 23 levels and a final decision on the re-assignment is to be recommended by the committee.

The JFF said the decision regarding Coach Waite's reassignment was a decision of the Board of Directors, the only legitimate body that can take that decision, and that Head Coach Whitmore was not involved in the decision.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will begin the Hexagonal final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers away to Mexico City at the famous Azteca Stadium.

Four days later they will host Panama at Kingston’s National Stadium, before travelling to Costa Rica two days later to close out the first round of games.

The opening round of games will take place between September 2-8.  The Jamaicans will be the only Caribbean team in the final round of the qualifiers.  The Reggae Boyz, along with Mexico, United States, Costa Rica, and Honduras automatically advanced to the final round based on their FIFA rankings.  Panama, Canada, and El Salvador took part in an additional round to reach the final stage.

A face-off against CONCACAF’s top-ranked team will be a tough start for the Jamaicans who will be looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1998.  The Jamaicans have never won a match at the venue but came away with a point from a 0-0 draw the last time the teams met there, in the qualifiers, in 2013. 

The game will, however, be hosted with no fans, after the team was ordered to play their next two official home games behind closed doors, as a consequence of anti-gay chants heard during matches against the Dominican Republic and the United States, played in Guadalajara on March 18 and 24.

The team was also fined $65,000 and further sanctions were threatened, including a possible points reduction.

 

 

CONCACAF Hexagonal Round fixtures

 Matchday 1 - Thursday, September 2

  • Canada vs. Honduras
  • United States vs. El Salvador
  • Panama vs. Costa Rica
  • Mexico vs. Jamaica

Matchday 2 - Sunday, September 6

  • United States vs. Canada
  • El Salvador vs. Honduras
  • Costa Rica vs. Mexico
  • Jamaica vs. Panama

Matchday 3 - Wednesday, September 8

  • Canada vs. El Salvador
  • Honduras vs. United States
  • Panama vs. Mexico
  • Costa Rica vs. Jamaica

Matchday 4 - Thursday, October 7

  • Mexico vs. Canada
  • Honduras vs. Costa Rica
  • El Salvador vs. Panama
  • United States vs. Jamaica

Matchday 5 - Sunday, October 10

  • Jamaica vs. Canada
  • Mexico vs. Honduras
  • Costa Rica vs. El Salvador
  • Panama vs. United States

Matchday 6 - Wednesday, October 13

  • Canada vs. Panama
  • Honduras vs. Jamaica
  • El Salvador vs. Mexico
  • United States vs. Costa Rica

Matchday 7 - Friday, November 12

  • Canada vs. Costa Rica
  • Honduras vs. Panama
  • El Salvador vs. Jamaica
  • United States vs. Mexico

Matchday 8 - Tuesday, November 16

  • Canada vs. Mexico
  • Costa Rica vs. Honduras
  • Panama vs. El Salvador
  • Jamaica vs. United States

Matchday 9 - Thursday, January 27, 2022

  • Honduras vs. Canada
  • United States vs. El Salvador
  • Costa Rica vs. Panama
  • Jamaica vs. Mexico

Matchday 10 - Sunday, January 30, 2022

  • Canada vs. United States
  • Honduras vs. El Salvador
  • Mexico vs. Costa Rica
  • Panama vs. Jamaica

Matchday 11 - Wednesday, February 2, 2022

  • El Salvador vs. Canada
  • United States vs. Honduras
  • Mexico vs. Panama
  • Jamaica vs. Costa Rica

Matchday 12 - Thursday, March 24, 2022

  • Costa Rica vs. Canada
  • Panama vs. Honduras
  • Jamaica vs. El Salvador
  • Mexico vs. United States

Matchday 13 - Sunday, March 27, 2022

  • Canada vs. Jamaica
  • Honduras vs. Mexico
  • El Salvador vs. Costa Rica
  • United States vs. Panama

Matchday 14 - Wednesday, March 30, 2022

  • Panama vs. Canada
  • Jamaica vs. Honduras
  • Mexico vs. El Salvador
  • Costa Rica vs. United States

International football player and captain of the ‘Reggae Boyz’, Damion Lowe, has joined the star-studded lineup of Digicel brand ambassadors.

An experimental Jamaica Reggae Boyz squad were thoroughly outclassed by the Japanese Olympic team, in a 4-0 loss, at the Tokyo Stadium, on Saturday morning.

Far from the competent display put on against the Serbian squad a few days earlier, the mix and match Jamaica team struggled to shift out of first gear and barely managed a shot on goal for 90 minutes.

The Samurai Blue, on the other hand, were razor-sharp and moved the ball with pace and purpose throughout the encounter.  Although a bit fortuitous, it was hardly a surprise when the Asian squad took the lead through Takefusa Kubo.  His fierce 32nd-minute strike, fired from inside the area to the left of the goal, went through the legs of four defenders before also going through Jamaica goalkeeper Dillion Barnes, who seemed unsighted.

The swarming Japanese increased the lead further 10 minutes later when Wataru Endo, given space just outside the 18-year area, used it to his advantage with geometric precision as he curled a shot high to the left of a fully outstretched Barnes.

Any hopes of a comeback were killed off early in the second half when substitute Ayase Ueda ran on to a defense-splitting pass, from the centre of midfield, and cheekily dinked over an onrushing Barnes to make the score 3-0 in the 58th minute.  The rout was completed in a simplistic fashion, in the 64th minute, when a loosely marked Ritsu Doan picked up the ball five yards from goal before pivoting to blast it into the net.

The match marked the end of what was supposed to be a three-match tour for the Jamaica team, where the first match against the Japan national team was cancelled after a COVID-19 testing mix-up led to the Caribbean squad not having enough players.

Rangers forward and prospective Jamaica international, Kemar Roofe, has seen an appeal to reduce a four-match UEFA competition ban rejected, after an egregious tackle on Slavia Prague goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar.

The incident happened during Rangers' 2-0 Europa League defeat, at the hands of the Czech side, back in March.  Roofe was given a straight red card after firmly planting the bottom of his boots into the face of the keeper as the duo clashed in an aerial duel.

Kolar was left with lacerations and a fractured skull, but Rangers believed the punishment taken against the player was too harsh.  UEFA, however, upheld the decision.

“The appeal lodged by Rangers FC has been dismissed,” the release read.

“Consequently, the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body's (CEDB) decision of 13 April 2021 is confirmed,” it continued.

 “The CEDB had decided to suspend Rangers FC player, Mr. Kemar Roofe, for four (4) UEFA club competition matches for which he would be otherwise eligible, for dangerously assaulting another player.”

The UK-born Roofe, who is believed to be in the process of securing documentation to represent the Jamaican national team, will miss the start of Rangers’ Champions League qualifying bid, which kicks off on August 3.

Retired Jamaica international, Jobi McAnuff, has officially called time on his professional career, finally pulling the curtains on a journey that has spanned some 20 seasons.

The 31-year-old midfielder, who spent the final year of his career as player-coach for EFL League Two outfit Leyton Orient, played his final game against Carlise, on May 1, which ended in a 3-2 home defeat for Orient.

McAnuff, who also played 32 games for the Jamaica national team, believes the time had simply come to hang up his boots.

“After 20 seasons and nearly 800 career games, the time has finally come to announce my retirement,” McAnuff said via social media platform Instagram.

“It’s been a tough decision, but my body and mind have finally had enough of the rigours of day-to-day football and I definitely feel now is the right time to hang the boots up,” he added.

“I’ve put in a lot of work over the last few years to make sure I was as prepared as I could be for this day and I look forward confidently and excitedly to the next phase of my professional life.”

Despite having taken over as coach for Orient’s final 16 fixtures, while also playing in midfield, McAnuff will not be continuing on as the team’s coach.  Orient finished in 11th position.

 

 

West forward and potential Jamaica target Michail Antonio has reportedly recovered from injury ahead of schedule and could take part in the team's match against Burnley on Monday.

The 31-year-old has not played for the Hammers since sustaining a hamstring injury in a match against Wolverhampton Wanderers in early April.  The knock was a huge blow for West Ham who have seen their hopes of a top-four Premier League finish go off the boil in recent weeks.

At current, the Hammers sit four points behind Chelsea in a race for the fourth and final Champions League spot.

“He is working with the physios and on the grass,” Moyes said of Antonio.

“I wouldn’t rule him out yet, but I don’t want to rule him in either. Let’s hope that he’s got a chance.

The news will also be welcomed by the Jamaica national team, who will be hoping the forward joins its ranks at the end of the Premier League campaign.  Antonio is one of several players England-born players who have opted to change international allegiance from England to Jamaica in recent months.  The players are expected to join up with the squad ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament in July.

  


Former Jamaica national team head coach, Carl Brown, has called for there to be a focus on the team's preparation in order to fully realise the potential of a talented squad.
The Reggae Boyz have not made an appearance at the FIFA World Cup since making their debut at the 1998 tournament in France. With a heavy influx of talented English-born players expected to bolster the team for the upcoming campaign, however, many believe it will represent the team's best opportunity in several years to make a return to the tournament.


In addition, the Jamaicans, currently ranked third in the Concacaf region, have retained the core of a talented Jamaica-born contingent that has appeared at back-to-back Concacaf Gold Cup finals in recent years.

While admitting that the country could indeed boast a formidable unit, Brown was quick to point out that current coach of the team Theodore Whitmore had to be afforded adequate opportunity to prepare the squad.

The Jamaica national team will take part in the Concacaf Gold Cup in July, before beginning the qualifiers in September.
“The English season finishes in May, so June is going to be a very, very important month for the coaching staff in terms of preparing the players and getting the right team for the Gold Cup,” Brown told FootballGps.
“The Gold Cup offers at least three quality practice games before the World Cup qualifiers and if we do well in getting to the semifinals and final then we have at least five games. I don’t think we can ask for anything better leading up to the qualifiers,” he added.
“So, I am very optimistic and just hope that we can offer the sort of preparation that is going to be needed because we have to understand that we are still faced with the Mexicos and United States' and the Canada's and the Costa Rica's and the Panamanians. We cannot just take it for granted that we have a good crop of players, probably the best we have seen since 1998 but it’s about preparation. If we don’t properly prepare for the World Cup qualifiers we really could find ourselves struggling.”

Retied Jamaica international, Fitzroy Simpson, has called for the return of the spirit of togetherness for the Reggae Boyz, expressing the hope that the current squad can go on to match the exploits of his historic 1998 unit.

Up until recently, some members of the Jamaica national team and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) were embroiled in a bitter contractual dispute, which saw several members of the team unavailable for the Caribbean team’s clash against the United States last month.

With the dispute now settled, and the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers coming later this year, Simpson is urging both parties to come together.

“Unity is so important,” Simpson said in a recent interview with the Irish Mirror.

“The set-up now has to be unified and improvements made on the business side,” he added.

Simpson was one of several English-based players to join the Jamaica national team ahead of their historic qualification for the World Cup in France.  The former Manchester City and Portsmouth player started all three games at the tournament and has fond memories of not just playing at the final itself but also the build-up.

“It was breathtaking.  It was the greatest honour in my playing career to lead Jamaica to history,” Simpson said.

“I remember my mother, my brother, and my uncle in the stadium when we qualified.  I looked at them and couldn't believe what we had achieved because Jamaica wasn't recognised as a footballing nation.  The whole country really drove us on, the support was incredible.”

 

 

Jamaica international Liam Moore has vowed to quit social media after being the subject of vile abuse earlier this week. 

The Reading captain was the target of a poll that posed the racist question “Should a n***** be captain of Reading FC?" The account has since been deleted.

In response, Moore also laid the blame at the feet of the social media platform.  The issue has once again been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks.

"2021 and I'm not ****ing surprised in the slightest. Twitter you're as much to blame for making it so easy to abuse people,” he tweeted.

 Earlier this week, Swansea announced that they would not take part in any social media activity for two weeks, following the abuse of another Jamaica international Jamal Lowe.  They were joined in protest by Scottish club Rangers.  Arsenal legend Thierry Henry had also previously announced the decision to delete his social media accounts in a bid to direct attention to the issue.

While pointing out that he had enjoyed interacting with the fans via social media, Moore denoted the environment to be an increasingly toxic one.

"I have enjoyed engaging with many of you on here over the years but tonight was just another example of Twitter being toxic,” he added.

"You have to stand for something and for that reason I am deactivating my account. Thanks for your support."

 

Jamaica international and Swansea forward, Jamal Lowe, believes an end to the ability to be completely anonymous on social media platforms could go a long way in helping to combat racism online and hate speech.

The 26-year-old player found himself the target of racist online abuse following the team’s loss to Birmingham City last weekend.  The forward was the third Swansea player since February to suffer the issue.

In response, Swansea announced that the club would boycott any social media-related activities for two weeks.  They were joined in the effort by Scottish club Rangers.  The player hopes the effort will at least bring more attention to the issue or push social media platforms towards a response.

The issue of the right to online anonymity has provoked fierce debate since the early days of the internet.  At current, individuals are not required to provide identification in order to sign up for accounts, Lowe believes that could part of the issue.

“At the moment, no one knows who is abusing any of us,” Lowe told Sky Sports.

“You’ve got an Instagram account, or a Twitter account or whatever when you sign up, put your email address in, put your national insurance number in or your passport number in, your driver’s license number, something that can identify you as a person,” he added.

“Something that can be linked back to who you really are and not just a page you created in five minutes, send some abuse and delete it because that’s a never-ending story.”

 

After being at loggerheads over wages for the past few weeks, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the Reggae Boyz have reached a contractual agreement that now allows the focus to return to the coming CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Jamaica Football Federation is said to be close to a resolution in the wage impasse with the Reggae Boyz.

English Football League (EFL) club Swansea has called for social media companies to do more to combat racial abuse on their platforms after Jamaica international Jamal Lowe was abused on Instagram following defeat at Birmingham City on Friday night.

Lowe posted the now removed message to his personal page, with the caption “some serious idiots out there.”  The issue of players being abused online has again come to the fore in recent weeks with legendary Arsenal forward Thierry Henry quitting social media to highlight the issue.  

Lowe was the third Swansea player, since February, to be subjected to racist abuse on social media.

"This is the third time in space of seven weeks where one of our players has been subjected to such abhorrent messages, and we continue to call on social media companies to go above and beyond to eradicate this appalling level of behaviour from their platforms," a Swansea spokesperson said.

"Jamal has the full and unwavering support of everyone at the football club,” he added.

Lowe, 26, has scored nine goals in 41 Swansea appearances since joining the Welsh club from Wigan in August 2020.  The player also recently scored on debut for Jamaica in a 4-1 loss to the United States in Austria.

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