‘Boyz still have a chance’: Jamaican coaches

DeAndre Yedlin of the U.S. in action with Jamaica's Leon Bailey during the CONCACAF Qualifiers at Independence Park, Kingston, Jamaica on Nov. 16, 2021.
REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy

Jamaican football (soccer) coaches Ludlow Bernard and Calvert Fitzgerald say the Reggae Boyz’ hopes of making it to the FIFA World Cup next year are thin after their last two results, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

The coaches told the publication on Monday that, for the Reggae Boyz to qualify, they must win their remaining games and hope other results go their way.

Bernard, coach of Harbour View, and Fitzgerald, the former Molynes United coach, said an automatic top three spot is out of the question and that the team will have to look at securing the fourth-place play-off spot, according to the Gleaner.

“Bernard said that, though there is still a slight glimmer of hope, he thinks the Boyz have dug themselves into too deep a hole and will require many things to go in their favor,” the paper reported.

“We left it a bit too late,” it quoted Bernard as saying. “It may be a bit hard to really get that elusive fourth spot now.

“There are still four home games to play, but it is going to be difficult, because other teams are playing well and fighting for points,” he added. “It is not impossible, but it is approaching improbability. We would have to depend on favors from other teams.

“We are out of that top three,” Bernard continued. “So, only fourth place will be possible; and it is far-fetched, because we lost valuable ground in Mexico, El Salvador and in the USA games.”

But Fitzgerald told the Gleaner that Jamaica has a squad capable of producing the results to give the team the best chance of nabbing the fourth spot.

“The position that we are in now, the only chance that we have is if we win all our remaining games and hope other results go in our favor,” he said.

“So, we will not have a good chance, unless we win five of the six games and hope for favorable results,” Fitzgerald added. “But I think we have the best squad in the qualifiers, the deepest squad. If any other team is missing one or two players, it will affect them significantly.

“We also have two players close to world class in Leon Bailey and Michail Antonio, and everybody else is above average,” he continued. “So, if we can get the right selection and the right system, with the right level of motivation, I see no reason why we cannot put the points on the board.

“But it is going to be extremely tough, and we cannot afford to lose any more games to direct competition, as that would be give them three more points on us,” Fitzgerald warned. “So, we just have to win the games and hope for the best.”

The Gleaner said the Reggae Boyz are sixth in the eight-team standings, on seven points after eight matches.

They are nine points behind leaders Canada and seven points adrift of Panama, who are fourth, the Gleaner said.

It said Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid is confident “Jamaica still has a chance and intends to fight all the way.”

 

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