The Jamaica Football Federation has released the latest 23-man squad for the upcoming match against the United States of America in the second window of CONCACAF World Cup Qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Most of the players listed were expected to be named, however there are a few noticeable absentees.
Firstly, Leon Bailey’s absence is clear, he is a player that will be sadly missed. The attacker picked up an injury while making his home debut for Aston Villa two weeks ago and has been ruled out for up to a month. Ravel Morrison is another big name that has not been included and reports suggest that his absence is due to him not obtaining a US Visa.
Blair Turgott, who scored a hattrick for his Swedish club Östersunds last week, has been left out. Also, the team is without a recognizable central defensive midfielder, with many questions surrounding why a certain Kevon Lambert was not selected in Anthony Grant’s absence.
Darren Mattocks, who has 3 goals in 6 appearances this season for Phoenix Rising FC, also failed to make the selection while Kasey Palmer, who plies his trade in the English League Championship with Bristol City, was also not selected to face the Americans.
It should be noted that the recent squad selection is only for the match against the United States and possible adjustments could be made to the team before they face Canada and Honduras.
Despite the missing players, what can we say about the set that was selected?
For starters, the selection hasn’t changed much compared to the last time the team took to the field. Its a much smaller group this time, compared to the 35 strong contingent for September’s WCQ fixtures. Most of the players from that first window of qualifiers retained their spots, while a few others were recalled for the first time in months.
Andre Gray, who played the last time Jamaica faced USA in March, makes it into the squad, possibly due to the absence of Cory Burke who got injured while training with the Philadelphia Union. Jamal Lowe’s presence is also welcomed. The Bournemouth man got the lone goal for the Reggae Boyz in that defeat against USA in a game where he stood out as one of the team’s better performers, leading to becoming an instant fan favourite among Reggae Boyz fans.
Je-Vaughn Watson’s inclusion to the team does come as a bit of a surprise though. Not one to possess the distinct qualities of skill or influence, his hard work and versatility may perhaps be
the reason the coaching staff has recalled the man who, if he plays, would be suiting up for his 86th cap.
On paper, Jamaica boasts one of the best teams in the region. But that’s on paper. It is therefore understandable if expectations were to be higher than they have been in recent years. However, one must never forget that hype and status do not win football games.
Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore has the players to defeat a United States team that are currently in the process of rebuilding. It can be argued that the quality of the squad available to face the Reggae Boyz is far inferior to the teams Jamaica have played in the past, and, dare I say, beaten as well.
However, it is to be said that though this current crop of players is still gelling together, USA have gone the last 12 games unbeaten and have defeated Jamaica in the last three encounters between the two nations.
It will be interesting to see Jamaica’s approach to the game on October 7th. One thing is for certain however, and in the words of Tappa himself, there is absolutely no room for error from this point going forward. With 1 point from a possible 9, Jamaica sits at the foot of the CONCACAF table, but, with a spirited approach going forward, the dismal start to the campaign can be rectified.