Jamaica international, Leon Bailey, insists he feels at home at new club Aston Villa after an impressive cameo against Everton on Saturday.

Since joining the Clarets from Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen at the end of the transfer window, Bailey has been used sparingly in the team’s line-up and is yet to start a match.  Against Everton, however, he gave fans a hint of what could be in store for this season with a match-changing introduction.

Bailey entered the pitch in the 61st minute and had almost an immediate impact on proceedings.  After Matty Cash’s thunderous shot put the hosts ahead in the 66th minute, Bailey’s viciously swung corner was headed into the back of his own net by Lucas Digne.

The Jamaican then got his first goal for Villa in fine style after sprinting on from the halfway line to a long ball provided by Danny Ings and crashing his shot into the net past a stranded Everton keeper Asmir Begović.  Things, however, ended on a worrying note for Bailey who had to be substituted in the 82nd minute after going down with an injury.  The change was later revealed to be more of a precaution.

“To have the fans chanting my name when I was going on, it was such an amazing feeling.  Words can’t even explain.  The fans were great tonight, it was perfect for me to get the goal for them tonight.  I feel welcome as a Villa player,” Bailey said following the match.

“I was just excited to get on the pitch, and I delivered, it was a perfect night,” he added.

As for the injury, the player did not think it was that serious.

“It might have been from hitting the ball, maybe I hit it too hard.  I just felt a little stiff in my quad, but I don’t think it’s anything serious.  So instead of risking it, I just decided to come out instead of risking it.  We have a lot of games coming up.”

Mount Pleasant secured the early advantage in the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) quarterfinals following a 3-1 first-leg win over Harbour View at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre For Excellence on Saturday.

After a positive start to the encounter by the Stars of the East, it was Mount Pleasant who gradually gained the ascendency.  The Montego Bay-based franchise took the lead through 17-year-old forward Devonte Campbell in the 30th minute as he blasted past Harbour View keeper Tafari Chambers at his near post.

With the game in the balance, Kesslan Hall sprinted on to an inch-perfect Daniel Green rainbow pass over the backline and chipped over the head Chambers and into the back of the net in the 55th minute.  Jourdaine Fletcher’s neat finish in the 75th minute put Mount Pleasant in complete control but Tyrese Williams gave Harbour View a lifeline after heading home from close range in time added on.  In the day’s other match, Tivoli Gardens and Vere United ended in a 0-0 draw.

 

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have fallen 20 points in the latest FIFA Coco-Cola World Rankings following a dismal start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualification campaign.

The national team began the hexagonal round with a 2-1 loss to the region’s top-ranked team Mexico but followed that up with a heavy 3-0 loss at home to Panama.  The team then ended the first round with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.

As far as rankings go, the poor start has proved costly with the team currently ranked at 59th and outside of the world’s top 50 teams for the first time in several years.

In the meantime, teams like Canada and Panama who are off to a strong start to the final round have headed in the other direction.  After jumping 16 places, Canada is now ranked above Jamaica at 51st, with Panama jumping 23 points to 68th

Mexico remains the region’s top-ranked team at 9th, followed by the United States at 13th and then Costa Rica at 44th.  The World Cup qualifier will resume next month with Jamaica travelling away to face the USA, hosting Canada at home before travelling away to face Honduras.

 

Elaine Thompson-Herah, the three-time gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics in Japan in August, is to be rewarded with a Jamaican diplomatic passport, Minister Olivia Grange announced on Wednesday.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has said the organisation will consider playing the rest of the country’s home World Cup qualifiers on foreign soil, due to losses incurred from hosting the matches.

The JFF hosted its first home qualifier earlier this month and it’s safe to say things did not go as planned.  The team suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat to Panama, which led to questions surfacing regarding the stewardship of the national program.

In addition, however, the match was played in front of an empty stadium due to existing covid-19 protocols.  As such, the organisation has been unable to collect gate receipts or other revenue, while footing the expenses associated with hosting the game.  With seven home games left to go, Ricketts insists the issue could become a major one.

“We can’t afford to play games without making any money at all at the turn styles,” Ricketts said. 

“So we are looking at options and we will have to discuss it with some of our key players, then we will look at whatever options may present themselves,” he added.

The Jamaica national team will next be in action on October 7 when they face the United States, while their next home match will be against Canada three days later.

 

Michael Holding, the feared tear-away fast bowler turned respected cricket commentator has announced his retirement from the commentary booth.

Jamaica Reggae Boyz defender, Damion Lowe, insists the team understands the frustration fans are experiencing following a slow start to the World Cup qualifiers but maintains the race to advance from the region has only just begun.

The Jamaica national team, who are looking to get to the World Cup for the first time in over 23 years, find themselves at the bottom of the eight-team group after the first three games.  The Boyz opened with a 2-1 loss away to Mexico, followed by a damaging 3-0 home loss to Panama.

The Jamaicans did, however, stage a recovery of sorts with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica.  The team is at this point, however, six points behind leaders Mexico who top the table with 7 and four behind the trio of Canada, the United States, and Panama who are currently in the qualifying spots, all tied on five points.  Lowe has, however, assured fans the team is far from out of the running.

“Every team goes through struggles and rough patches, unfortunately, ours was at the start of the qualifiers, but it only gives us fire in our belly and keeps us humble,” Lowe told SportsMax.TV’s InCaseYouMissedIT.

“If you look at the table we are not far off, people are tying, people are losing.  You saw Honduras, USA game, anything can happen, Concacaf is one of the hardest to qualify out of.  It’s all up in the air, nothing is decided, it’s only three games in,” he added.

 

Jamaica international Kemar Roofe insists he is proud of finally making a long-awaited debut for the national team, despite a lopsided result against Panama.

The 28-year-old striker was among a number of players based in European leagues brought in to bolster the Reggae Boyz as the team looks to return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time in over two decades.

It was hardly the ideal scenario, however, as the team lost 3-0 at home to Panama.  The international window consisted of three games but due to United Kingdom restrictions on travel to countries on its red list, Roofe could only take part in the home fixture against Panama.  Both Mexico and Costa Rica where the team also had matches are on the UK’s red list.  Travel to any of these countries would have required a 10-day quarantine upon return to the United Kingdom for the players, with several leagues controversially opting not to release players for the fixtures.

Setbacks aside, however, Roofe insists his first cap was a proud moment for both himself and his relatives.

“It was a proud moment for myself and my family to represent my dad’s country of birth,” Roofe told the Daily Record.

“It’s a good experience to play international football. It’s a different style of football to the domestic game. It’s an enjoyable experience, even though we lost,” he added.

“We only had a few days to get to know each other and play the game. The two other games were in the red zone so we couldn’t go to those games.”

Following an opening-round loss to Mexico and loss to Panama, the team got on the board with a 1-1 draw away to Costa Rica. 

Jamaica track and field star Elaine Thompson-Herah has her eyes set on eclipsing the long-standing women’s 100m record, but after adding the Diamond League trophy to her list of outstanding accomplishments this year, she is content to leave that feat until next season.

Once again, the Olympic champion proved to be in a class of her own on Thursday's Diamond League finale, in Zurich, pulling well clear of a quality field to stop the clock at 10.65.  The time was the athlete’s fourth run under 10.7s this season, the most times done by any female athlete in history.

The performance marked yet another outstanding achievement for Thompson-Herah who a few weeks ago claimed the sprint double in Tokyo, and also in the process broke American Florence Griffith-Joyner’s longstanding 100m Olympic record.

However, it was a performance a few weeks later, a jaw-dropping 10.54 set in Eugene, Oregon, that set tongue’s wagging and raised expectations for a world record challenge.  The time was not only the second-fastest ever run over the distance but just 0.5 seconds outside of Griffith-Joyner’s world record, for many years believed to be unapproachable.  After a long, tiring but extraordinarily successful season, however, the athlete is more than content to leave that pursuit for another time.

“It has been a crazy season, a long one and a tiring one. I was so consistent because I was just keeping the faith in me and did not allow any negativity,” Thompson said following the event.

 “I am really happy and grateful. I am tired now but this is my job. I would describe this season with one word: amazing, yet it had ups and downs. I have to give God thanks that I am healthy and that I could finish such a long season…This year, it was a long season with ups and downs, but next year, the world record is definitely on my mind.”

 Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz got their first points of the CONCACAF World Cup final round, with a hard-fought 1-1 draw to Costa Rica, which was a tale of two halves.

Costa Rica went ahead early, but Jamaica found an answer to force the teams to split a point Wednesday at the Estadio Nacional in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica took the lead in the third minute when Bryan Ruiz weighed up a beautiful ball for Jonathan Moya on the back post. The attacker Moya spotted Jimmy Marin making a run and used his head to set Marin up for an easy shot over the line, with Jamaica GK Andre Blake still working to defend a potential shot from Moya on the post.

Yet, Jamaica was able to find an equalizer just after the halftime break. Left-back Kemar Lawrence got into the final third with the ball and plenty of space in the 47th minute and teed up a cross for Shamar Nicholson. Nicholson didn’t hit his header entirely cleanly, but that seemed to flummox goalkeeper Keylor Navas, and Nicholson was off to celebrate his second goal of World Cup qualification.

Costa Rica was on the break again in the 68th minute, with Marin breaking free, but his touch took him too wide and Jamaica was able to recover from the danger.

There was danger on Navas’ net in the 87th minute, with the former Concacaf Goalkeeper of the Year making a pair of interventions, including using his legs to sweep away a ball that Javon East was attempting to control in the box.

It’s the first point Jamaica has earned in qualification, with the Reggae Boyz set to look for more points in October when they travel to face the U.S.

 Costa Rica’s first match of the October window is away to Honduras and the Ticos will look to add to the pair of points they amassed in September.

Decorated Jamaica sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce insists there are no ill feelings towards talented young American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, despite plenty of talk surrounding the athletes in recent weeks.

In truth, the majority of the arguments have come from feuding sides of the Jamaica vs the United States track and field rivalry, which has amplified in recent months since the American burst onto the scene.

The flamboyant Richardson has certainly played her part in fueling debates in recent months, even if her performances have not quite lived up to expectations, the number of eyes on track and field certainly seems to have increased.

The American was initially expected to face a high-powered Jamaica trio of Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah, and Shericka Jackson at the Olympic Games, but ended up missing the top-billed event after picking up a one-month suspension for using marijuana.  At the event, Thompson-Herah broke the longstanding Olympic record with Fraser-Pryce second and Jackson third.

There was for Richardson and some fans, however, the sense of a missed opportunity and a much-hyped meeting of the American facing the Jamaica trio in Eugene two weeks later was presented in that light.  Things did not go as planned for Richardson, however, as she had plenty to say before the event but finished in last place.

The result was the same as the Olympics with Thompson-Herah finishing first, Fraser-Pryce second, and Jackson third.  However, it was Fraser-Pryce who went viral following the sprint as she was caught on camera passing an animated Richardson interview with a mirthful look and knowing smirk.  The fans had a field day, but she insists there wasn’t too much to it.

“I mean, seriously, it was just a look,” Fraser-Pryce told sports lifestyle magazine The Undefeated.

 “I was having a conversation with my teammate and she said something, and then I looked. But it wasn’t – it was just what it is. It was just a look, you know? It was just a look. Yeah. There was nothing more behind it, if I’m being very honest, there was nothing more behind it,” she added.

In her mind, the fiery mentality that the American brings to the sport is also good for track and field.

“I like her. I like her personality,” Fraser-Pryce said.

“…for us as women, we’re somehow supposed to just stand at the line, look cute and just run, [and] wave. We’re not allowed to express ourselves or show our emotions.”

 

As she looks forward to what could be her final race this season on the final day of the Diamond League season in Zurich on Thursday, double, double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah said she kind of surprised herself with the incredible success she has experienced this year.

Since she won her first sprint double in 2016, the first woman to do so since Florence Griffith-Joyner at the Seoul Games in 1988, Thompson-Herah failed to win a medal at the 2017 and 2019 World Championships. However, at the Toyko 2020 Olympics this past summer, Thompson-Herah became the first woman in Olympic history to win back-to-back sprint doubles.

She set a new Olympic record of 10.51 in the 100m and set a lifetime best of 21.53 to win the 200m titles. She added a third gold medal as a member of Jamaica’s 4x100m relay team that set a new national record of 41.02, the third-fastest time in history.

Weeks later she won the 100m at the Prefontaine Classic in 10.54, the second-fastest time ever run and then followed up with 10.64 to finish second to Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in Lausanne and then 10.72 in Paris.

Speaking at a press conference this morning before she takes to the track on Thursday, the history-making Olympic champion said she has not yet had time to take it all in.

“It hasn’t sunk it as yet. I think because I knew I had a long season I don’t want to get too carried away, too excited and the focus is still continuing the season for next year and the years to come. After the season ends I can say hurrah, hooray and I watch back my videos and see what I have done and say yes, I did it,” she said.

“Being the fastest woman alive, I think I still haven’t known what I have done yet. Because I have put in all the work and I have achieved, it is not something I never expect myself to do but my expectations were not high but I think I surprised myself this entire season with everything that I have done so far.”

On Thursday, Thompson-Herah will line up against Dina Asher-Smith, Natasha Morrison, Javianne Oliver, Daryll Neita, Marie Jose Ta Lou and the Swiss pair of Ajla Del Ponte and Mujinga Kambundji in the 100m.

 

After a lengthy absence from the team, Jamaica Reggae Boyz midfielder JeVaughn Watson is hoping to lead the way, as a senior player, when the team looks to bounce back from a tough start to its World Cup qualification campaign.

With two matches already gone in the hexagonal round, the Jamaicans are yet to get a point on the board following a 2-1 away loss to Mexico and dismal showing in a 3-0 loss against Panama at the National Stadium.

Even so, the decision to recall Watson, ahead of the team’s crucial clash against Costa Rica, could certainly be seen as a decision out of left field.  Despite once being a lynchpin of the national team’s midfield, the player has not appeared for the Reggae Boyz since 2019 and has not played much football locally either.

The 37-year-old, however, believes he can still be of value to the squad and hopes to anchor its efforts to get points on the board.

“I’m naturally a robust player, I break up plays try to keep the unit together, try to build a vibe leading up to the game.  Whenever we are having fun, you always get the best out of us,” Watson said.

“I’ll be a senior player, try to get the group together.  Try to go out there and be a menace to midfield, to break up players and move us forward, link with each other, and try to see what we can do from there.”

 

 

Defender Kemar Lawrence and forward Norman Campbell have joined the rest of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz after facing immigration issues upon arrival in Costa Rica.

Lawrence and Campbell were initially denied entry into the South American country on arrival based on residency documentation issues.  Based on the country’s immigration laws four groups of countries can enter the country with or without a visa.  Group one states that citizens of these countries do not require a Costa Rican visa. They only need a valid passport with at least one day left on arrival in Costa Rica with a return ticket.

Lawrence is a United States green card holder and Campbell is a citizen of Slovenia.  Residents of both countries are in the group allowed entry into Costa Rica without a visa.  Lawrence, however, lost his official green card documentation during the Gold Cup.   

Campbell's visa was expired, and Costa Rica immigration did not accept evidence of his Slovenian residency.  He did not have a Slovenia passport in his possession.  Since losing his documents Lawrence has received written permission to travel in the form of a stamp in his passport from US Homeland Security.  It was, however, not accepted by the Costa Rica embassy.

Assistance was, however, sought through diplomatic channels, through Jamaica’s Ambassador out of Mexico with responsibility for Costa Rica and the Costa Rican Ambassador in Jamaica, as well as Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, the Honourable Olivia Grange. The efforts eventually led to the relevant government minister in Costa Rica signing off on allowing both players to enter the country.

The Jamaican team has had a torrid start to the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers following a narrow 2-1 loss to Mexico and 3-0 thrashing at home at the hands of Panama.  The team will look to get things on track in tomorrow night’s encounter against Costa Rica at 8:00 pm.

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