Jamaica international Leon Bailey could return to action for English Premier League club Aston Villa against Arsenal next week after failing to return to the line-up on Saturday.

A few weeks ago, the player had a smashing impact for the Claret and Blue, coming off the bench to provide an assist for one goal before smashing the other into the roof of the net in a 3-0 win over Everton.  The player was, however, forced to leave the field after picking up an injury soon after and has not returned to the line-up since.

Bailey also missed out on the latest round of World Cup qualifiers for his country Jamaica.  Villa boss Dean Smith confirmed that the player has come up short ahead of Saturday’s encounter against Wolverhampton.

“Leon Bailey’s hasn’t ticked all the right boxes for the medical staff yet. We’re hopeful he’ll be ready for the Arsenal game,” Smith said.

Aston Villa went on to lose the match 3-2 after surrendering a two-goal lead.  The Jamaicna joined the club this summer following the departure of talisman Jack Grealish who made a big-money move to Manchester City.

Former Jamaica Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Ryan Thompson has questioned the practice of labelling the country’s national representatives as foreign-based or English-based in light of questions regarding the team’s unity.

In recent months, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has looked to bolster the experience and quality in the team’s ranks by extending an invitation to players who qualify to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican heritage.  Several players have accepted the offer but the team's overall integration has not gone smoothly.

The situation was similar to the team’s historic 1998 campaign when a mix of players, some based in Jamaica and English players of Jamaica heritage qualified the unit for the tournament in France.  Ahead of its historic feat, there had also been controversy surrounding the inclusion of the players who were based abroad.

Internationally, players opting to represent countries where they were not born is hardly an unusual situation.  The likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Christian Benteke, and Raheem Sterling, who was born in Jamaica but represents England, are among just a few who feature on the list.

As it relates to the current crop, however, Thompson believes the aim must be to get the team to gel as soon as possible, a goal that having player labels and categories is unlikely to help.

“If we can get the team to gel and call everyone Jamaican and not local based or foreign-based or English based, whatever it is, that’s when we will really be able to do some damage in the world, not just the Caribbean,” Thompson told TVJ Sports.

‘You don’t hear the German team talking about, oh this guy was from Austria or the US saying the same thing about German-based players.  They're Americans, why are we throwing labels on our players?”

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe has expressed delight with opening his goal account for the Reggae Boyz after finding the net in a 2-0 win over Honduras but believes the team started gathering momentum in the previous match.

The Rangers striker found the back of the net, for a Jamaican team desperately in need of a win, in the 36th minute after successfully deflecting an attempt from strike partner Shamar Nicholson.  A defender, Oniel Fisher, scored the team's second in the second half.

The goal was the first for Roofe in four matches, having started the last two.

“It’s a special moment for all of us, getting my first goal for my country.  I want to dedicate this to my dad, he is the reason I am playing for Jamaica,” Roofe said.

“It was massive for the team to get the three points.  I think it all stems from the game against Canada.  We didn’t get the three points but we got the draw and we came out of that game with solidarity and belief and a lot of respect as well and we brought it into tonight’s game.”

The Reggae Boyz battled to a 0-0 draw with Canada at the National Stadium on Sunday.  The win sees Jamaica move to five points and 6th position, three points outside of the fourth spot, which is currently occupied by Panama.

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz jumpstarted their fading hopes of qualifying for the Qatar World Cup following a 2-0 away win over Honduras, at the Estadio Olimpico, on Tuesday.

Goals from Kemar Roofe and Oniel Fisher gave the team their first win of the campaign, a result that lifted the Jamaicans from the bottom of the table for the time in six games.  Heading into the encounter both teams were in desperate need of a win, with Honduras beginning the match just a point above the Jamaicans in 7th place.

After dominating the early opportunities, it was Roofe who put the Jamaicans in the lead after redirecting a shot from Shamar Nicholson into the back of the net in the 38th minute.  The home team battled to get back on level terms but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities.

Fisher made the game safe for the Jamaicans with a well-taken effort in the 79th minute.  Having joined the attack, the right-back collected a layoff from substitute Andre Gray before curling a shot around Honduras goalkeeper Luis López and into the net.

  Jamaica’s campaign to earn a spot in Qatar continues with a trip to El Salvador to open the November international window, while Honduras hosts Panama.

The Jamaica Reggae Boyz will be without two key members of the squad heading into Wednesday’s crucial qualifier against Honduras with both defender Alvas Powell and forward Jamal Lowe ruled out of the encounter.

Powell, who started but did not finish Sunday’s encounter against Canada, has been diagnosed with a Grade I hamstring strain and will not be able to take part in the match against Honduras.  Typically deployed at right-back, Powell began the game at centre back. 

Regular last man Damion Lowe had been ruled out of the counter based on an accumulation of cards.  Lowe will return to the line-up for the upcoming encounter.

Meanwhile, Lowe will be returning to Championship club AFC Bournemouth based on an agreement ahead of the qualifying round.  The player started against the United States and came off the substitute’s bench against Canada.

With just two points from their first five matches the team currently sits at the bottom of the table, Honduras who are also yet to secure a win are one point above the Jamaicans in the standings.

A scoreless draw between Jamaica and Canada on Sunday at Independence Park in Kingston took Jamaica to a pair of points thus far in the final round of World Cup qualification, while Canada earned its second consecutive away draw and now sits on seven points.

After an even first half, things heated up in the second 45 minutes. Canada had a chance just after the ball started rolling again before a Jamaica free kick in the 50th minute taken by Kemar Lawrence was met by Junior Flemmings, who hit the post with a header.

In the 80th minute, Jamaica’s Kemar Roofe led a counter-attack and tried his luck from outside the box with a strong right-footed effort, but narrowly missed the upper 90 of Canada GK Maxime Crepeau’s net.

 Canada kept pushing for the breakthrough goal as well, with chances in the 84th minute when Alistar Johnson was unable to get his effort on target after a nice build-up, followed by an opportunity in the 86th minute when Alphonso Davies pulled a few tricks out of his bag, but ultimately ran into the Jamaican defence in the area.

Lawrence once again drew Crepeau into action as the match ticked into the final minute of stoppage time, but the Canadian shot-stopper made the save to preserve the point.

Jamaica now hits the road again, travelling to face Honduras. Canada will play its first home match of the October FIFA window on Wednesday, welcoming Panama to BMO Field in Toronto.

 

Khadijah ‘Bunny’ Shaw scored her second Women’s Soccer League (WSL) goal for Manchester City on Saturday as 10-woman Citizens played to a 2-2 draw with Manchester United.

The mystery surrounding the decision of West Ham forward, Michail Antonio, to withdraw from Jamaica’s team days ahead of the ongoing round of World Cup qualifiers has added another twist, with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) insisting it was based on a misunderstanding.

According to multiple reports, the issue stemmed from the fact that the player was not given permission to carry his personal physiotherapist on the trip, which he had agreed to pay for out of pocket.  Through his agent, Antonio who has suffered from a long history of muscular injuries, made the request for the medical professional to be able to join the squad but was turned down.

However, strangely, the JFF now insists that the player’s representative was given the wrong information as he should have in fact been granted permission to travel with the therapist.

“It was a simple mix-up that caused that caused that to happen.  What we don’t want to do is to continue to lay the blame all over the place.  We know administratively from the JFF hierarchy that that is something we had supported,” General Secretary Dalton Wint told TVJ Sports.

The official, however, seemed to be at a loss to explain how a member of the technical committee could have communicated a negative answer to the player’s agent when the answer he admits should have been a simple and positive one.

“He is allowed (to carry physiotherapist), it’s simple.  That’s why we used the term miscommunication.”

Wint went on to state that the issue had been cleared up with the player and his agent and expected him to return to the team in the near future.  The Jamaica team is at the bottom of the standings with three losses in the first four matches.

   

Jamaica Reggae Boy midfielder Anthony Grant has joined the team ahead of Sunday’s crucial World Cup qualification match against Canada.

 The Swindon Town player missed out on the United States game after a late call-up, following the decision of Preston North End's Daniel Johnson to pull out of the squad for what was reported to be injury precaution reasons.

Grant made his debut, alongside Devon Williams, for the team against Mexico in a narrow 2-1 loss before representing the team again in a 1-1 draw against Costa Rica.  The player’s return should be good news for the under-pressure Theodore Whitmore coached team who used veteran JeVaughn Watson in the position against the United States.  Watson’s recall, ahead of the Costa Rica game, had come as a surprise to many.  The player had been coming off a low level of inactivity having not been included initially for the qualifiers.  The inclusion of Grant should add reinforcement for the team in the defensive midfield area, as the Reggae Boyz look to clamp the brakes on a dangerous Canadian attack, which has been one of the best in the competition so far.  

The team is yet to win a match in the competition so far and is rooted to the bottom of the eight-team table on the back of one draw and three losses.

West Ham forward Michail Antonio has pulled out of Jamaica’s upcoming round of qualifiers after citing logistical and travel difficulties with the upcoming set of fixtures.

The in-form forward, who made his national debut against Panama in the previous round, was expected to be part of the team for three upcoming matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

With the USA game expected to kick off on Thursday, however, the player has communicated via a brief release that he will not be joining up with the squad as planned.

“I can confirm that, unfortunately, I will not be joining up with the Jamaica national squad for the World Cup qualifying matches this week. Myself, West Ham United, and Jamaica have all agreed that, given the logistical and travel difficulties involved at present, it is better for me to remain with the Club in London at this time. I remain fully committed to Jamaica and look forward to representing my country in the future.”

The news will come as a blow to a Jamaica forward line-up that will be somewhat shorthanded. The team will also be without Aston Villa’s Leon Bailey who remains unavailable due to injury and Philadelphia Union’s Corey Burke who suffered an ankle injury in training. Defender Liam Moore, Ethan Pinnock and midfielder Daniel Johnson have also withdrawn from the squad.

 

The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in association with CONCACAF, will be hosting a team from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Assist League Development Programme for a capacity-building workshop with clubs in the Jamaica Premier League.

The workshop begins on Tuesday, October 5, 2021, at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, and ends on Friday, October 8, with a closing session and Press Conference at midday.

UEFA’s key aims are to share knowledge and best practices to help UEFA’s sister confederations and their member associations develop and strengthen football within their respective territories as well as to respond to the needs of national associations and confederations around the world while increasing solidarity and facilitating football development globally.

The intensive programme will cover a wide range of topics on best practices in the modern league across several topics aimed at further developing the Clubs of the Jamaica Premier League.

"The clubs represent the main cornerstone for the development of football in Jamaica. We have come a long way in club development over the years but there is still a mountain to climb if we are to get to our destination,” said JFF President Michael Ricketts.

“This workshop will help to bridge the knowledge gap and introduce our clubs to best practices and methods in today's game. The JFF welcomes the assistance of both CONCACAF and UEFA and I implore the participants to capture as much knowledge as is possible.”

The capacity-building sessions are only a part of an overall League Development Programme and follow similar sessions conducted online last year for the JFF and with the participation of the then recently-established Professional Football Jamaica Limited, PFJL.

This week, the sessions are being delivered directly and in person with international experts to the clubs of the Jamaica Premier League, including the clubs for the 12th spot.

“Building the capacity of the Jamaica Premier League clubs is a vital step in the UEFA Assist League Development Programme. Strengthening their knowledge in key areas like income generation, governance and financial management will prove invaluable to ensuring the clubs remain sustainable over the long-term,” said Eva Pasquier, UEFA Head of International Relations.

“We are delighted to support this important initiative and help grow Jamaican football.”

Meanwhile, Howard McIntosh, ONE Caribbean Project Senior Manager at CONCACAF believes that strengthening the clubs’ capacity augurs well for regional football.

"Clubs are the heartbeat of football. Developing the clubs in Jamaica and the region is part of our commitment to improving the game in Concacaf. This is even more critical with the professional game,” he said.

“We remain committed to supporting our member associations and the clubs in our region. This workshop is one small demonstration of our continued support. I would encourage all the Clubs to take full advantage of this opportunity to learn about best practices in the professional game."

More Sports On Board for the Cali Junior Pan-American Games

The list of sports in which Jamaica will be represented at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games in Cali, Colombia, continues to grow with the latest additions being Skateboarding, Squash and Archery.

President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, describes the strong showing as "proof positive that the JOA's policy of equal opportunity, parity in investment and empowering the next-generation is encouraging and having results."

Representation now stands at a historic 12 sports, by far the largest number of sports that the local Olympic movement has ever had at a multi-sport regional or international games.

This fact has prompted President Samuda to say: "For us, at the JOA, strength lies in numbers, strength lies in a wealth of talent and strength lies in the conviction that today's real-time investment is tomorrow's history-making dividends."

Preparation for Cali is on in earnest and, for the Samuda-led administration, management of games generally has become a "business of sport" undertaking.

Commenting on the new approach, JOA Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, said: "Investing in and banking on the inflow of talent, increasing the numbers on the books,  creating opportunities for exponential growth and having a professional management team to  manage flow and outflow of games is our business at the JOA."

The positive response of the juniors augurs well for the future of the Olympic movement which is founded on the fundamental principles of inclusion and allowing each athlete the opportunity to transition to the international stage where, Secretary-General Foster stated, "history awaits those who had the discipline to train and the present will to succeed."

The Cali games will be held between November 25 and December 5 and "it will provide Jamaica's juniors and those of the America's opportunities to test their credentials for the 2023 Pan-American Games with the hope of graduating to the finale in 2024 in Paris" President Samuda stated.

Cavalier eventually outlasted a resilient 10-man Waterhouse to claim the Jamaica Premier League crown for the first time in 40 years after a penalty shootout win at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Saturday.

It was Cavalier who deservedly took the lead, after enterprising play early on, courtesy of a towering 17th-minute header from defender Jamoi Topey.  Waterhouse goalkeeper Zemioy Nash flew off his goal line to collect a high looping corner but failed to make any contact, which left Topey with a free header.

Things went from bad to worse for the Waterhouse squad when captain Nicholai Findlayson received one caution for a poorly time tackle and was then sent from the field of play for showing dissent to the referee, just one minute after going behind.  

To their credit, however, despite being a man down, Waterhouse pressed to get back into the game.  With time running out and one hand on the trophy Cavalier goalkeeper Jaedean White was forced to make back-to-back saves to prevent a fierce shot and header from Colorado Murray from levelling the tie.  He could, however, do nothing to prevent a calmly and assuredly placed penalty Damion Binns, which got Waterhouse back on level terms with the final kick of the ball, after a Cavalier defender was deemed to have handled the ball during a last-ditch Waterhouse barrage on goal.

With neither team able to break the deadlock in extra time, the game headed to a shootout.  Shaquille Bradford, Shevon Stewart, Andre Leslie and Ricardo Thomas scored for Waterhouse, while Richard King, Jamoi Topey, Melvin Doxilly, Marlando Maxwell and Jamar Purcell scored to give Cavalier a final 5-4 advantage.

In the third-place play-off, Tivoli Gardens triumphed over Mount Pleasant also via another penalty shootout.

Jamaica will be represented in several sports at the first-ever Junior Pan-American Games which is scheduled to take place in the city of Cali in Colombia between November 25 and December 5, 2021.

Responding to the call made by the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) earlier this year, several juniors from the so-called "smaller sports" dedicated their efforts in qualifying and have now earned a coveted place at the historic games.

Among those sports, whose athletes will don the black green and gold national colours in Cali, are Taekwondo, Weightlifting, Artistic Gymnastics, Fencing, Badminton Triathlon, Tennis, Cycling (Track), Skateboarding and Squash.

In commending the commitment of member associations and the nation's juniors, President of the Jamaica Olympic Association, Christopher Samuda, said: "Our associations and federations and their juniors have responded positively and with national pride to the JOA's Cali call to action for it will be for us, 'business unusual' in Cali and for them, it will be 'signed, sealed and delivered."

The JOA boss, in expressing a well-known policy of the national governing body, further stated "the JOA is giving our young sportsmen and women every opportunity to transition and be more than gold medalists - to be standard-bearers. The JOA subscribes to this ideal and Cali is certainly embracing it."

The number of local sports that will feature at the multi-sport junior games is indeed a record for the JOA and is being interpreted by its Secretary-General and CEO, Ryan Foster, as "a clear signal that the JOA's strategy of diversification is working well and that our members are inspiring their junior athletes to be history-makers and to strive for excellence."

With the Santiago 2023 Senior Pan-American Games and the Paris 2024 Olympic Games only two and three years away respectively, the JOA views the Cali games as a critical milestone. Secretary-General Foster, in giving the context, was unequivocal. "Cali is a dress rehearsal for our juniors. If you want to be at the senior shows, you have to, from now, dress for the shows, study the scripts and be able to deliver yourself on the big stages."

The stage lights in Cali will soon be turned on to spotlight over 3,800 athletes from the Caribbean and Americas - north, central and south -who will compete across 315 events in 28 sports and "Jamaica will be their centre stage and the objective is to have a leading role in this historic event," President Samuda said.

The Universe Boss Chris Gayle has left the IPL bubble citing bubble fatigue and a need to stay fresh for next month’s ICC T20 World Cup.

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