With the Olympics in Tokyo just months away, Japan has ramped up their preparations and showed their might on Saturday with a comprehensive 9-0 thrashing of Jamaica’s Young Reggae Boyz at the Transcosmos Stadium in Nagasaki.

The under 22s from Jamaica were no match for their hosts, who are also preparing for the Asian Cup next month, a competition which also acts as a qualifier for Tokyo.

Though Japan has already booked their place in Tokyo by virtue of being the hosts, they would still like to do well in the Asian Cup and have laid down a marker for their rivals.

Japan will be in Group B of the Under-23 Asian Cup, where they will first take on Saudi Arabia on January 9, 2020, before turning their attention to  Syria on the 12th.

Qatar is next for the Japan side before what they will hope are quarterfinal match-ups. There are four groups with the top two from each making the quarterfinal.

Reggae Boyz coach Theodore Whitmore was the man in charge of the under-22s, saying the encounter would have given him the chance to take a look at some of the emerging talent from the country with a bid to fitting them into senior World Cup qualification games.

A Jamaica Under-22 team will take on Japan at the Transcosmos Stadium in Nagasaki in a friendly scheduled for December 28, for the Kirin Challenge Cup 2019.

Theodore Whitmore, head coach of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz said that Jamaica couldn’t afford to be complacent now that the team has climbed up the latest FIFA World Rankings released on Wednesday.

One of the heavyweights in the Concacaf Nations League, the Jamaica’s men’s national team will be one of the favorites to win their group in League B.

Theodore Whitmore’s side finished Concacaf Nations League Qualifying in eighth place and were denied participation in League A only by goal difference.

Jamaica won their first three qualifying matches by a combined score of 12-1 but had their attack shut down on their final matchday.

The team’s only defeat in CNLQ came away at El Salvador, 2-0, a match their foes needed to secure the final spot in the Gold Cup.

Jamaica’s run in qualifying saw them secure a spot in the Concacaf Gold Cup for themselves and were later named as one of the tournament’s co-hosts.

Hosting a Gold Cup match for the first time, Jamaica opened the tournament with a win against Honduras. The next two matches ended in draws but were enough to win the group.

A 1-3 loss to the United States in the semifinal denied the team a third consecutive final.

Jamaica now turn the page and begin play in the Nations League, drawn in Group C along with Guyana, Antigua and Barbuda and Aruba.

The Reggae Boyz open at home against Antigua and Barbuda before traveling to Guyana to kickoff Nations League play on Friday.

In other games, from League B tomorrow, Aruba play Guyana and Montserrat host the Dominican Republic.

Portmore United player Emilio Rousseau, for the first time in his career, is in the mix to represent the Reggae Boyz as the team gets ready to play in the CONCACAF Nations League Group Stage in September.

The Reggae Boyz will begin their group stage campaign with a game against Antigua and Barbuda and then against Guyana in September.

Rousseau will be joined by the returning Corey Burke as names that were absent from recent friendlies.

Goalkeeper Jeadine White makes the squad along with players like Kevon Reid, Amal Knight, Fabion McCarthy, Ladale Richie, Daniel Green, Kemar Bennett, Ajeanie Talbott, Andre Lewis, Tevin Shaw, Alex Marshall, Leonard Rankine, Kaheem Parris, Clifton Woodbine, Nicholas Hamilton, Kevaughn Isaacs, and Shaquille Dyer.

Reggae Boyz coach, Theodore Whitmore is investing a lot in this squad, the former player, saying his charges upcoming matches have huge significance to their World Cup bid.

“It is important that that then edn of the group phase the country finishes in the top six in CONCACAF in order to be in the best position entering the World Cup qualifiers in September 2020,” the coach had said.

Whitmore was speaking to stake holders within the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), asking for as much support as they could possibly muster.

"Even after finishing in the top six in November 2019, it will be important to maintain that position through other FIFA international match dates down to June 2020, so I am urging total focus and support through the next couple of months in the first instance," he said.

The Reggae Boyz will kickstart their Nations League group stage effort on Friday against Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sports Complex on the island’s north coast.

The game will be played on September 6, leaving the Reggae Boyz, who last played in the Gold Cup, ending their campaign in the semi-finals, with little turn-around time before their game against Guyana on September 9.

The team will leave the island September 7 for that fixture.

Coach of the Reggae Boyz, Theodore Whitmore, is under no illusions about how important these games are, expressing those sentiments to key executives of the Jamaica Football Federation just recently.

“It is important that that then edn of the group phase the country finishes in the top six in CONCACAF in order to be in the best position entering the World Cup qualifiers in September 2020,” he said.

Whitmore was appealing to the executive members for support in the next few months, saying even after that, all international fixtures took on significance.

"Even after finishing in the top six in November 2019, it will be important to maintain that position through other FIFA international match dates down to June 2020, so I am urging total focus and support through the next couple of months in the first instance," he said.

Rule changes in the region, mean that only the top six teams will be allowed to play in qualifiers for a direct place in the World Cup.

The teams finishing outside of that top six will play for FIFA’s half-spot, meaning they will play against each other for the right to play against the team that finishes fourth from the top-six.

That game will be played in a home-and-away format and will determine another fixture of the same nature against a team from another region. Those two will then play for a World Cup berth.

The hexagonal will feature 10 games for each team, beginning in September.

There will also be games in October and November this year, before a restart in March of 2021. The games conclude in September of 2021, just over a year before the World Cup.

Jamaica national head coach Theodore Whitmore has strongly refuted suggestions of interference with the running of the U-23 team.

Criticism has continued to pour in from all angles following a poor campaign by the youth national team, which saw them eliminated in the first round of the Olympic Qualification phase.

 With only the winner of the three-team Group A eligible to advance to the next round, Jamaica needed to beat St Kitts and Nevis but were held to a 1-1 result at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex and finished second with two points. St Kitts topped the group with four points, while Dominica finished at the bottom on a point.

Suggestions from some quarters, namely Craig Butler the agent of Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler, who had been brought into the U-23 team suggested that the actions of Duckie and his squad selection was influenced by Whitmore a claim the national coach strongly rejected.

“Honestly, I don’t think that’s a fair comment to myself and Donovan Duckie. You can’t have a team preparing for so long and then one man just comes in and start making decisions,” Whitmore said on Jamaican radio show Sports Grill.

 “It couldn’t happen with me so I wouldn’t do it to a next man.”

Jamaica Head Coach Theodore Whitmore had nothing but respect for both the United States and Jamaica after a wild night at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.  

 Jamaica Head coach Theodore Whitmore is focused on one goal heading into Tuesday night’s match against Curacao at Banc of California Stadium - advancing to the knockout stage.

“If you look at the group, three teams have a chance to qualify for the next round,” Whitmore emphasized in Monday’s pre-match press conference. “It’s neither here nor there whether we win the group or are runner-up, the most important thing, right now, is to get out of the group.”

A win against Curacao will assure Jamaica advances to the knockout stage, but its place in the group could still depend on the result of the preceding match between Honduras and El Salvador.

“We can’t look on the Honduras-El Salvador game going forward, this is a must-win or at least for Jamaica get a point out of the game so we expect Curacao to come with everything at us,” said Whitmore.

“Well, no doubt about it, Curacao have quality in their team,” added the former Jamaican national team player. “We have a game to play tomorrow, we have a tough team to play against. We just have to go out there and put our best foot forward.”

Whitmore described his team’s attitude as positive and upbeat ahead of the pivotal clash. He also praised his players for the work done up until this point.

Leon Bailey and Michael Hector were brought up as injury concerns and are under watch for the upcoming match.

When asked about the upward progress of Concacaf teams, Whitmore pointed to the evolution of the region and why his team must not be overconfident with Curacao.

“Everybody has to be in tip-top shape,” said Whitmore. “We can’t take anything for granted, we can’t take anybody for granted because everybody’s evolved.”

Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore insists the team will have to be wary of complacency heading into its second CONCACAF Gold Cup, against Curacao, on Friday.

The Jamaicans got their campaign off to a solid start on Monday, as a brace from Dever Orgill anchored a 3-2 win over Honduras at Jamaica’s National Stadium. 

Despite securing the positive result, however, Whitmore admitted to having concerns with the performance, particularly with the nature of the goals conceded.   

“At times it’s not always about the pretty football.  It is about results. Overall I think complacency got the better of us, especially when we were leading by two goals to nil, it definitely got the better of us and that is unacceptable,” Whitmore said.

“Going forward there are a few things to fix, in terms of putting pressure on the ball and cutting off the passing lanes much quicker,” Whitmore added.

The Jamaicans might well have reason to be cautious, despite the fact that they are unbeaten in their last two games against El Salvador, the latest encounter coming in a 2-0 win in the CONCACAF Nation’s League, the team has lost four of the last six games.

The teams will face off at the BBVA Compass Stadium, in Houston.

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 national men’s football team coach Theodore Whitmore believes a strong start against CONCACAF rivals on home soil could go a long way in determining how well the squad does in the upcoming edition of the Gold Cup.

This time around and for the first time in the tournament’s history, there will be matches held on Caribbean soil.  Jamaica will host El Salvador, Honduras and Curacao in Group C and Whitmore is eager to take advantage of the home turf.  While regarding El Salvador and Curacao as familiar opponents, the Reggae Boyz coach regards Honduras as more of an x-factor.

“We are looking forward to it. The only difference in our group is Honduras. We know the El Salvador team, we know the Curacao team, we have the Honduras team to play at home and we are looking forward to that game. A positive result in that game should set us on our way into the El Salvador and Curacao games,” Whitmore said in an interview with CONCACAF.com.

The Reggae Boyz have reached the final of the competition in the last two editions, where they lost to the region’s top teams Mexico and the United States.  The Caribbean team will be hoping to make a third trip this year, perhaps this time hoping to do one better.

“Nothing is impossible. We just have to work hard and make sure we get in a decent preparation and then in the tournament, we’ll see what we can do,” said Whitmore.

Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore insists the team does not want to drop its usually high standards, heading into the Gold Cup, on the back of a poor performance against El Salvador at the weekend.

An uncharacteristically poor performance in the Concacaf Nation’s League, at the Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador on Saturday saw the team fall to a 2-0 loss.  The loss was the first for the Jamaica team in the competition, prior to that scoring Cayman Islands, 4-0 at the National Stadium in Kingston in their opening game followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Bonaire in Curacao and a 2-1 victory against Suriname at Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay.

“The Gold Cup is coming up and the team did very well by reaching the finals in the last two editions in 2015 and 2017, and we don't want to drop that standard,” Whitmore said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

“I also want to give everybody here a chance to see what they have to offer which will help us in the selection of the Gold Cup squad,” he added.

Since the end of Jamaica’s failed bid to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, overseas-based players have not been used by national coach Theodore Whitmore, but that all looks set to change with the announcement of a 23-man squad for the start of the CONCACAF Nations League. 

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