General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Dalton Wint, has welcomed the implementation of Video Assistant Replay (VAR), which will be used for the final six games of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers.

Prior to this, Concacaf was one of only three nations not making use of the technology, alongside AFCON (Africa) and Oceania, and were hampered in their efforts to do so by not only technological restrictions but also due to a lack of certified officials.  With both issues rectified since the start of the year, the way is now clear for the replay system to be implemented.

In its absence, the competition has been plagued by what some believe to be high-profile refereeing errors.  Against the United States with the game tied at 1-1, Jamaica defender Damion Lowe’s header, which flew into the net 7 minutes from time, was controversially ruled out for what appeared to be very little contact with US defender Walker Zimmerman.  The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

With the country well behind on points in their pursuit of three and a half qualification spots, three points instead of one could have made a huge difference.  Wint hopes that in the future such costly errors can be avoided.

“I think it (decisions like that) is one of the major reasons CONCACAF decided to implement it.  It is really important to get the major decisions right,” Wint said of the upcoming technology upgrade.

There have of course also been times when the technology may have gone against the country notably when Lowe was himself yellow carded for a last-ditch challenge on USA player Brenden Aaronson, although the call might have been marginal at best.

“I’m all for it.  If you have the technology, then why not use it.  You can’t have it both ways, at times it may slow the game down, but it is important to try and arrive at the correct decision.”

The Reggae Boyz, who are currently in 6th place in the eight-team standings and 7 points behind the final qualifying spot, will resume their qualification campaign against Mexico on January 27th.  

 

 

 

West Indies One Day International and T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, implored his team to aim to put together a string of consistent performances on the eve of their first ODI against Ireland at Sabina Park in Jamaica.

Pollard spoke in a pre-match press conference on Friday and acknowledged the criticism the team has received for its frequent inconsistent play.

“A lot has been said over the last couple months in terms of performances by the West Indies team; us not doing well and losing games and it is something that we accept. We want to be able to string good performances together on a consistent basis and that is the nature of some of the conversations we’re having as a team,” Pollard said.

The Trinidadian also explained that finding the right combination can take time so fans should be patient.

“Hopefully the fans can bear with us until we find that right combination and guys in the frame of mind to actually perform on a consistent basis,” he added.

Finding that right combination is also made more difficult by the fact that some of the most talented players in the region have persistent fitness issues that prevents them from being selected to represent the Caribbean side, a notion which Pollard also echoed during his press conference.

“It has been a topical issue that has been plaguing us for the last couple years or so. I think it’s an individual choice. The selection policy is there, the fitness policies are there. Guys know exactly what is needed for you as an individual to represent the West Indies and sometimes as individuals, we tend to take things for granted. Yes, it has hindered the process of selecting the best team at any given time,” he said.

In terms of preparation, the captain says training has been going well and the team is relishing the opportunity to produce.

“We have an opportunity to try and put things right, so for the last couple days guys have been training hard. This is a different format to the ones that we have played recently and we’re looking forward to the challenges for the season ahead, not only this series,” Pollard said.

The first ODI between the West Indies and Ireland bowls off at Sabina Park on Saturday, January 8 at 9:30 am Jamaica time.

 

 

 

Preparations are advancing for the Video Assistant Replay (VAR) replay system to be installed at Jamaica’s National Stadium, with a site visit expected to take place early next week.

Production and audiovisual company MediaPro, which is already in charge of broadcasting all Concacaf events, will be responsible for implementing the technology in Jamaica, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama.  The other four venues, which do not have the technology installed.

The move follows up on the decision by CONCACAF to implement VAR for the region in September, but the move was held up not only by logistical considerations but also by adequately certified officials.

In recent weeks, however, football’s world governing body FIFA has accredited referees, as well as VAR assistants and managers.  Prior to that, only the United States, Mexico, and Canada had VAR officials as they were the only ones to make use of the technology in their various leagues.

Implementing the technology in Jamaica will incur an added expense as the equipment will have to be flown to the island before being installed at the country’s national stadium.  The other CONCACAF venues taking part in the Octagonal round, which do not have yet the technology, can be accessed via roadways.  The majority of the bill will be picked up by Concacaf.  Jamaica will resume World Cup qualification action against Mexico, at the National Stadium, on January 27th.

West Ham forward and Jamaica international Michail Antonio has extended his contract with the English Premier League (EPL) for another two years.

The 31-year-old Antonio signed a new deal just 13 months ago, which would have kept him at the club until 2023.  The deal, however, had allowed for an extension clause that West Ham have now exercised to keep the player at the club until 2025.

Antonio has had a strong season for the Hammers so far scoring 8 times in 19 matches.  His goals have formed a crucial part of the team’s strong EPL campaign so far, which sees them currently just outside the top four.

Overall, for the club, he has scored 52 league goals in 175 appearances.  Antonio has also played his part in helping the club get to the knockout stages of the Europa League.  The forward scored the opening goal to help dispatch Dinamo Zagreb 2-0 on matchday one, a victory that ultimately helped the club top their group.

With the West Indies One Day International (ODI) series beginning on Saturday, pacer Jayden Seales is feeling relaxed ahead of his maiden stint in the West Indies white-ball set up.

The 20-year-old Trinidadian pacer has already represented the region at the highest level, so far taking 16 wickets in four Test matches, with his debut coming against South Africa as a 19-year-old last year in St. Lucia.

His talents were first put on display for the world to see in the 2020 ICC Men’s Under-19 World Cup where he spearheaded the West Indies attack and was one of the most impressive bowlers in the tournament, finishing with 10 wickets in six matches at an average of 18.30.

Speaking at a press conference today, ahead of the start of the Ireland series, Seales spoke about coping with pressure as well as how staying away from negative comments and focusing on Cricket has been the key to his early success.

“I think I’ll be under pressure most of my career seeing that I’m the youngster in the team. If I don’t perform then the media and everybody will say I’m too young, so I tend to just not focus on that stuff. I don’t really go to social media during series or during a game. I tend to stay off social media and stay away from comments. I just talk to my parents and to my family back home and keep my mind away from all the negatives and focus on the cricket. I just go out and enjoy my cricket and play to the best of my ability and if on the day I happen to perform well for the team then I’ll be very pleased,” Seales added.

Fresh off a successful stint in the recently concluded Lankan Premier League T20 where he took 15 wickets in seven matches to help his Jaffna Kings defend their title, Seales will be hoping to make his ODI debut for the West Indies when they take on the Irish on Saturday, January 8 at 9:30 am Jamaica time at Sabina Park.

 

 

 

Jamaica Reggae Boy Junior Flemming has secured a move to French Ligue 2 club Toulouse FC.

The forward, who has spent the last year at USL Championship club Birmingham Legion where he scored six goals and notched three assists, made things official earlier this week after signing a two-year contract for an undisclosed fee.

At the moment, the move will be even more intriguing for the Jamaican as he faces the prospect of being able to compete in Ligue 1 by next season.

Toulouse are currently in second place in Ligue 2, having won 10, drawn seven, and lost just two of their first 19 matches this season. If the club manages to secure a top-two finish in the league this season, Flemmings and Toulouse would move up to play in Ligue 1 next season.

Legion FC general manager Jay Heaps described the transfer as an exciting one for the player and believes it illustrates the quality the club has to offer.

“We are excited for Junior to have this opportunity to join a club of Toulouse FC’s caliber,” Heaps said.

“We feel this transfer highlights the quality within Legion FC and across the USL Championship, while also setting our club up for success moving forward.”

Flemmings has played 19 games for Jamaica’s national team, managing to score 2 goals.  The player has featured regularly for the country in its ongoing World Cup qualification campaign.

Kingston College will tackle Clarendon College, while Jamaica College play Dinthill Technical as the final four of the ISSA Champions Cup was drawn on Wednesday.

In quarterfinal action, Kingston College booked their spot in the semi-final after dominating the majority of the play but had Ronardo Burgher to thank after he secured the only goal of the match in the 10th minute.  

Clarendon College, in the meantime, headed into their encounter against Charlie Smith as heavy favourites but had to fight their way back after going a goal behind.  Andre Gibbs put Charlie Smith ahead in the 35th minute, only for Kemar Dunn to bring things level two minutes later with a smashing volley.  Clarendon College finally took the lead in the 90th minute, in truth through a rather kindly awarded penalty, which was nonetheless dispatched with certainty by Jahiem Rose.

Jamaica College, in the meantime, also recorded a narrow 1-0 victory over a plucky Garvey Maceo, getting the all-important goal in the 12th minute, courtesy of Delando Wint.

In the day’s other encounter, goals flowed freely.  Leon Brown gave St Andrew Technical a surprise 9th-minute lead against Dinthill, but the daCosta Cup representatives came roaring back.  Jaheem Thomas equalised in the 16th minute, before goals from Richard Matthews (27th), Shamair Hutchinson (39th), turned the game completely on its head.  Thomas returned to score a second and third in the 60th minute and fourth four minutes from full time.

 

 

Promising young USA sprinter, Trayvon Bromell, has hailed the positive impact of Jamaican track icon Usain Bolt and compatriot Yohan Blake, particularly during the low point of his career.

The 25-year-old Bromell, who showed prodigious talent as a junior, suffered several injury setbacks early in his senior career.  The sprinter announced himself as one for the future after finishing third in the 100m at the 2015 Beijing World Championships.  Just a few years later, however, Bromell had gone through two ankle surgeries, the second putting him out of track and field for up to two years.  He then tore an adductor soon after his return in 2019.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which was held in 2021, was supposed to be a comeback year for the American sprinter.  After qualifying for the Olympics, however, he subsequently failed to make the final and was left despondent.  According to the American, Blake, who himself suffered career-threatening injuries during his time, was the first to reach out.

 “It’s been humbling and an honour for them to even support me and they’ve helped me through hard times. After the Games, Yohan came and sat down with me in Tokyo and told me how proud he was of my comeback,” Bromell told Essentially Sports.

The young runner has also received encouragement from Bolt and spoke glowingly of his strong connection to the duo.

“I’ve got a real strong connection with both Usain and Yohan,” said the US Sprinter. “I’ve talked to both of them during this process when I’ve been coming back.”

Former Liverpool and England international, John Barnes, would be open to a second stint coaching the Jamaica national team should the right conditions present themselves.

Barnes coached the Jamaica Reggae Boyz between 2008-2009.  During the period, Barnes coach the team for nine matches, posting 6 wins and 3 draws and going on to win the Caribbean Cup.  The result saw the team secure qualification to the Concacaf Gold Cup but Barnes and the JFF unexpectedly parted ways before the team took part in the tournament.

Looking back, the Jamaica-born Barnes admits he would have loved to have coached the team at a major tournament.

“We won the Caribbean Cup and it’s a fantastic trophy to win, it’s a trophy. The Gold Cup was the big one, that is one of my biggest regrets that I wasn’t given that opportunity,” Barnes told Tallawah TV.

Barnes was later replaced by Theodore Whitmore.  But after a poor start to the World Cup qualifiers last year, however, the JFF has now sacked Whitmore and appointed his assistant Paul Hall to the interim post.  The position could, as a result, become open in the near future.

"I don’t know if it’s unfinished business but that’s one regret that I wasn’t able to go to a big tournament with Jamaica,” Barnes added.

“It’s not about tournaments it’s about every football game you play, going out there and showing what you can do, be it a friendly against Cayman or be it a Gold Cup or a World Cup qualifier and having that same attitude in every single game, every single training session, that is what I love to do, so who knows what the future holds.”

 

 

Everton forward Demarai Gray is reportedly close to finalising a move to represent Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz pending the approval of official documents.

The 25-year-old player, who qualifies to represent the country by virtue of having Jamaican parents, is one of a number of footballers with Jamaican heritage approached by the JFF in recent times, as the team looks to bolster its chances of qualifying for the World Cup.  Gray has earned 21 caps for the England U21 team but has never played for the senior team.  He is expected to secure his passport in a few weeks.

So far, the likes of West Ham’s Michail Antonio, Reading’s Liam Moore, and Fulham’s Bobby Reid to name a few have all already shown up to represent the Reggae Boyz in the World Cup qualifiers.  The team did not get off to a great start.  With eight matches played Jamaica are currently sixth in the eight-team table and seven points off the final qualifying spot.

The Jamaicans are looking to get back to the World Cup for the first time since their historic qualification in 1998.  After a slow start, the team parted ways with longtime coach Theodore Whitmore and handed the job to assistant coach Paul Hall in December.  Both men were part of the team’s historic World Cup qualification campaign.  The Reggae Boyz will be back in action on the 27th of January with a crucial home fixture against Mexico.

Reggae Boyz striker Shamar Nicholson and central defender Allyson Swaby were named by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) as their 2021 Male and Female Player of the year, respectively, on Monday.

Nicholson, who recently completed a move from Belgian Pro League team Charleroi to Russian Premier League outfit Spartak Moscow, scored three goals in 11 appearances for the Reggae Boyz in 2021.

The former Boy’s Town attacker has been in sensational form this season scoring 13 goals in 18 games for Charleroi before making the move to Spartak.

Swaby, who captained the Reggae Girlz for the first time this year, was part of a Roma team that won their first major Women’s trophy in May by defeating AC Milan on penalties in the Copa Italia final after keeping a clean sheet.

On December 21, it was announced that Swaby would be joining National Women’s Soccer League expansion team Angel City FC following the completion of the Supercoppa Italiana this January.

Nicholson will miss the Reggae Boyz January 20, friendly with Peru in Lima but could next be in action for the Boyz on January 27 when they play Mexico in a World Cup Qualifying fixture, while Swaby's Reggae Girlz will next see action in the CONCACAF Women's Championship beginning on February 17.

 

Scores of children turned out in the community of Rockfort in Kingston on Friday as the residents were treated to a Christmas treat by Reggae Boy Damion Lowe. 

The Jamaica vice-captain provided gifts to over 200 children at the Marcus Garvey Square on Glasspole Avenue. 

Accompanied by representatives of his local sponsors, Digicel, and members of his management team, the 28-year-old, who was the sole Jamaican named to the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI, handed gifts to the children as they came out in their numbers to greet him. 

The initiative is meant to be an inaugural event for the community that was also home to his father and former Reggae Boy, Onandi Lowe. 

Lowe considers himself blessed and wants to extend that to the residents of Rockfort. 

“It has been a good year for me; I know how important Christmas is to the little ones and this Treat will put a smile on their faces. I have to thank my sponsors Digicel for showing up in a big way by providing all the gifts,” said Lowe. 

“Hopefully next year, after the pandemic, we can have amusement rides for the children as well,” Lowe added.

Lowe currently represents Al-Ittihad in the Egyptian Premier League and has made 35 appearances for the Reggae Boyz, scoring two goals.

He was yesterday named in the Reggae Boyz squad for their friendly against Peru and will likely captain the team for the game with regular skipper Andre Blake being rested.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) interim selection panel has announced the squads for the upcoming series against Ireland and England.

Captain Kieron Pollard is fit again and returns to lead both the ODI and T20 sides that will battle the Irish in three ODIs and one T20I at Sabina Park, in Jamaica, starting January 8.

The CG Insurance ODI Series between West Indies and Ireland will form part of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League, in which the top seven teams can secure automatic qualification for the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India.

The West Indies are currently eighth in those standings with 40 points, while Ireland sits fourth with 50.

The Caribbean side will then play five T20 Internationals against England, in Barbados, beginning on January 22.

“We have tried to maintain the general make-up of the squads from the Pakistan tour before Christmas, with the captain and some senior players coming back in. The challenges in the next couple of months are getting the young players in both squads to not only improve on their skills but maintain the attitude and desire we saw in Pakistan,” said West Indies coach Phil Simmons.

Simmons also emphasized the need for his team to start the year on a good note.

“We do need to start the year on a high. We know both Ireland and England have very good teams so we expect a very strong challenge as we look to improve our chances of automatic qualification for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2023 and building the team for the ICC T20 World Cup in 2022,” Simmons added.

ODI squad for the Ireland Series: Kieron Pollard (captain), Shai Hope (vice-captain), Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase, Justin Greaves, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Motie, Jayden Seales, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Devon Thomas, and the COVID-19 reserves are Keacy Carty and Sheldon Cottrell.

T20I squad for Ireland and England Series: Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen (England T20Is only), Darren Bravo (England T20Is only), Roston Chase, Sheldon Cottrell, Dominic Drakes, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Jason Holder, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr, and the COVID-19 reserves are Jayden Seales, Alzarri Joseph, and Devon Thomas.

Fabian Allen is fully recovered from an ankle injury but is unavailable for the Ireland series after a positive COVID-19 test.

Interim Jamaica Reggae Boyz head coach Paul Hall has named a 23-man squad for the upcoming international friendly against Peru in Lima on January 20.

“The date of the game does not fall within the FIFA window so none of the Europe and Central America based players were called,” the JFF stated in a release today.

Hall is using this game as an opportunity to assess players that are unfamiliar to him and as such, has left out regular members of the squad like captain Andre Blake, Oneil Fisher and Alvas Powell.

All the players, including those not called on this occasion, have made themselves available and are committed to being ready for the three World Cup qualifying games from January 27 to February 2.

 The 23-man squad for those games will assemble in Jamaica on January 24th while the squad for the Peru game will assemble in Jamaica on January 13th.

The full squad is as follows: Dwayne Miller, Jeadine White, Amal Knight, Damion Lowe, Richard King, Jamoi Topey, Javain Brown, Kemar Lawrence, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kevon Lambert, Tevin Shaw, Ramone Howell, Devon Williams, Peter-Lee Vassell, Lamar Walker, Alex Marshall, Dwayne Atkinson, Deshane Beckford, Kaheem Parris, Devonte Campbell, Jourdain Fletcher, Cory Burke, Oquassa Chong.

 

 

Jamaica's treble Tokyo Olympic Games gold medallist Elaine Thompson-Herah has been named the AIPS Best Female Athlete of 2021.

This follows a poll by the International Sports Press Association, where a panel of 529 journalists from 114 countries voted for the champions of 2021. Joining Thompson-Herah in receiving the top honour is Polish footballer Robert Lewandowski, who has been named the AIPS Best Male Athlete of 2021.

The former Manchester High School student, who was named the World Female Athlete of the Year at the World Athletics Awards 2021 earlier this month, retained her Olympic 100m and 200m titles in Tokyo and added a third gold medal in the 4x100m relay. She also ran world-leading times of 10.54 and 21.53 over 100m and 200m respectively, moving to second on the world all-time lists for each discipline.

She topped the AIPS poll with 605 points, ahead of Spanish footballer Alexia Putellas (490 points) and Venezuela's world triple jump record-holder and Olympic champion Yulimar Rojas (346 points).

Other athletics stars joining Thompson-Herah and Rojas in the top 10 are Kenya's Olympic 1500m champion Faith Kipyegon and Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands, who claimed 5000m and 10,000m titles in Tokyo as well as 1500m bronze.

Joining Lewandowski in the top 10 for the men's award are Norway's Karsten Warholm, who was named the World Athletics Male Athlete of the Year, plus his fellow world record-holders and Olympic champions Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya.

Thompson-Herah has also been named Athletics Weekly’s Female Athlete of the Year, NACAC Female Athlete of the Year and Diamond League Athletics’ Most Consistent Athlete in women’s sprints for 2021.

 

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