Added firepower

Ravel Morrison, Mariappa among likely overseas-based players for Cayman clash

Sunday, August 19, 2018

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ST GEORGE'S, Grenada — Jamaicans can expect to see a number of foreign-based players line up for the Reggae Boyz when they oppose the Cayman Islands in their opening C oncacaf Nations League encounter inside the National Stadium on September 9.

Michael Ricketts, president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) has admitted to the Jamaica Observer that Head Coach Theodore Whitmore has named a provisional 24-man squad loaded with professional players, some of whom play in Europe.

“Of course, I don't know how many Jamaicans would be familiar with the name Ravel Morrison, but he has got his Jamaican passport, so he is ready,” noted Ricketts.

Morrison is a 25-year-old attacking midfielder who started his career at Manchester United but is now owned by Italian Serie A club Lazio, who has loaned him out to Mexican club Atlas.

Ricketts continued: “I know the coach has in mind for Mariappa (Adrian) and Michael Hector, among others, participating in the MLS and further afield, so the coach and his technical staff would have had discussions on this and thought that it might be prudent to strengthen some departments. so they would have brought back these players for at least the first phase of the Nations League.”

The JFF boss explained that his administration doesn't want to take the Nations League lightly as it is a qualifying tournament for the Concacaf Gold Cup, especially after Jamaica advanced to the final of the Gold Cup tournament in the last two editions.

“I think we would have got some international friendlies. we would have in recent times played Antigua, twice; we've played St Kitts; will play Grenada (did so on Friday night).

“We will be playing Barbados and Ecuador leading up to the start of the Nations League and we don't want to take this competition lightly because this competition actually qualifies you for Gold Cup. and having done so very well in the last two Gold Cup tournaments, we want to ensure that we stay focused and continue to do well at that highest level in Concacaf.”

The Reggae Boyz will follow up their game against Cayman Islands with another against Bonaire in Curacao, then Suriname in Jamaica, before closing out the preliminary phase away to El Salvador next March.

“All the teams are serious and want to get in their overseas-based players, so a number of teams could spring surprises and we don't want to be caught napping. So we have tried as best as we can to give our team and our players as much exposure as possible, so I would want to think, from my own personal standpoint, that we are ready from a technical perspective to take on our Caribbean neighbours,” Ricketts said.

Meanwhile, fans can expect to see the Reggae Boyz in their new Umbro kit for the Nations League opener.

“We will don our new kit officially when we play our first game. We have a few little hitches, but I do believe that we will be in our Umbro gear for the start of the Nations League. They would have done some shoots with us last week, with some of our home-grown national players, and I think that on the 6th of September they will have a launch,” advised Ricketts.

“I want to assure Jamaica that we have a serious interest in developing the sport of football, and my agenda is one single item and that is growing the sport of football.”

— Ian Burnett

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