The importance of a great center back pairing in modern day football has become somewhat of a necessity for any team that wishes to obtain long term success. Without one, it is seen as an impediment to winning trophies, as the center backs serve as the baseline on which teams are formed, especially those partnerships which are rooted in good chemistry. Many center back pairings over the years have famously helped their clubs to achieve tremendous success on the field. Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci, Paulo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta are just a few notable ones that come to mind, helping their respective teams to win multiple titles over a number of years.
What is also important to note is that these specific pairings were also members of the same national team and, inevitably, achieved similar success internationally as well. So, what can Jamaica really learn from this philosophy? It is not foreseeable to think that perhaps if we were to get our best center backs paired together playing for the same club at the highest level then maybe we can begin to build from that root and ultimately achieve success in the long run.
No doubt, Damion Lowe, who plays for IK Start in Norway, is one of our most talented and perhaps one of our best center backs for the national team.
A regular starter under Theodore Whitmore, Lowe is often paired with English-based veteran Adrian Mariappa, who plays in the Premier League for Watford, having also previously represented Reading FC in the English top flight. Lowe is currently at the age where much is expected of him, especially for a player in his position. At 26, he is definitely seen as the man who ‘locks’ the Reggae Boyz’s defence and having a partner that is equally as adept as him should be of paramount importance to the Jamaica Football Federation. However, at 33-years-old, Adrian Mariappa is perhaps too far on in age to consider implementing a long-term partnership between him and Lowe. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Whitmore and the Federation to find a suitable right-hand for the Norwegian based footballer.
When we think about a possible partner that will match Lowe’s physique and ability, one name comes to mind and that is Cavalier’s ace central defender Jamoi Topey, who recently acquired a loan deal to Philadelphia Union’s second team Bethlehem Steel. At 20-years-old, Topey is prime and ready to carry the mantle along with Lowe for the Jamaican National team. Having experienced the full process of national team selection, representing the U-15, U-17 and the U-20 groups, Topey finally got his call up to the senior men’s squad from coach Whitmore late 2019, earning his first cap for the Reggae Boyz.
Getting both Lowe and Topey in the same club team might be difficult but it might prove to be a great stepping stone in building a project that can lead to tremendous success for Jamaica on the field.