No substitute for commitment

Saturday, November 24, 2012

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WE are at one with outgoing General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Mr Horace Reid that his former colleagues in the nation’s football administration should avoid distraction and stay focused on the bid for Jamaica to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Like Mr Reid, this newspaper strongly believes that the Reggae Boyz have an excellent chance of getting to Brazil. But as we all know, ‘there’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip’.

As football watchers will be aware, the national team is now in the final Group of Six of CONCACAF teams who will next year compete in home and away games for a place on football’s highest stage.

Mexico, United States, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama are the countries with whom Jamaica will be competing.

The top three CONCACAF teams from the qualifying campaign will automatically make it to the World Cup, while the fourth placed will play off, home and away, with the top team from the Oceana group.

Mr Reid’s cautionary note may well have been more influenced by off-field issues. But the recent injury to Mr Rudolph Austin, whose presence adds stability and strength to the Jamaican midfield, is evidence of that which can go wrong on the field of play.

That obvious need to make sure that the strongest possible team represents the country at all times, and that there are always highquality replacements, motivated the recent JFF scouting mission to the United Kingdom.

This newspaper is gratified at the news that several hardened British-based professionals of Jamaican parentage have given "convincing indications" that they are prepared to join the qualifying campaign.

We also take note of Captain Horace Burrell’s insistence that only those believed to be committed to the Jamaican cause were being invited.

"We want players who are prepared to die for the country on the field of play, and I’ve not picked that up with (some players contacted by the JFF)," Captain Burrell tells us.

It underlines a point this newspaper has made previously in this space, that regardless of their perceived technical and tactical quality we must make sure that those who come to join the team are capable of blending in and giving their all.

This will be no vacation, and care must be taken that all players understand this. Also, there can be no guarantees of a place in the starting 11.

Those who come must carry the spirit of Messrs Fitzroy Simpson, Paul Hall and Deon Burton, et al, those British-born players who joined the successful 1998 qualification bid by the Reggae Boyz and performed with such heart and distinction.

This is a delicate balancing act which must not go wrong.




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