The Reggae Boyz have it all to play for in the next two World Cup Qualifying fixtures.
El Salvador and the United States both stand in the way of what will be crucial points for a Jamaica team that are just beginning to catch their groove on the Qatar 2021 campaign.
Fresh off an important victory away to Honduras last month, it is imperative that Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore and his team maintain the momentum going into the November fixtures.
On Friday, the Reggae Boyz will face El Salvador in what is a crucial match for both countries, as the winner could see themselves move further up the table depending on the result of the other fixtures. Jamaica will then host a major clash with the United States at ‘The Office’ on Tuesday, a difficult fixture that will no doubt prove to be one the Reggae Boyz cannot afford to lose.
The squad that has been called up this time around features some faces that were notably absent in the last round of qualifiers. Michail Antonio, who is having a fantastic season both in the English Premier League and the Europa League for West Ham United, has travelled with the team to El Salvador. The 31-year-old controversially withdrew from the squad last month following an alleged disagreement between his club and the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
Ravel Morrison is also back in the camp, with the midfielder selected in the team after not featuring since the 3-0 home defeat to Panama back in September. Lamar Walker, Cory Burke, Greg Leigh and Dwayne Miller all received recalls to the squad.
Ethan Pinnock and Daniel Johnson first come to mind when we realized the usual faces that are absent from the squad this time around. Both Johnson and Pinnock recently featured for their club teams in England and have not been placed on any injury list, raising the question as to why would the JFF leave out two of our best players at such a crucial time in the country’s fixture run?
Tyreek Magee has also been left out, having failed to impress in his most recent appearances for the country and also not making an impact for his Belgian club Eupen. Jamal Lowe and Blair Turgott, who are in red-hot form for clubs AFC Bournemouth and Ostersunds, have also been surprisingly left out.
The avid Jamaican football fan can no longer afford to go into these World Cup Qualifiers with confident predictions, even with the quality of players the team has available. The performances of the Reggae Boyz have been largely inconsistent at best. But if the team plays with the confidence and vigor they showcased against bottom of the table Honduras, there is no limit to what they can achieve.
The weight of expectations has never been higher for Tappa and his team. With this squad, many will expect nothing less than four points from these two games and anything less will see our World Cup hopes become more of a fantasy than a reality.