2023 is expected to be an exciting year for Jamaican football. The women will take centerstage at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2023 Pan American Games and also the Olympic Playoff with Canada. For the men, it is a year also to be filled with enthusiasm and confidence as the Reggae Boyz are a win away from a CONCACAF Nations League semi-final, they also have a Gold Cup to play and a few international windows to play friendly matches. With this calendar ahead, who are the top 5 Reggae Boyz we expect to help the national team achieve its goals this calendar year? Here are my picks
#5 – Justin McMaster – Forward
We start things off with Justin McMaster. Justin holds a special place in Jamaican sporting history as he is the only player to score on his U-15, U-17 and senior team Reggae Boyz debut, his first and only senior goal coming vs. Cameroon last November. The Former Hillel Academy student who played for Minnesota United in Major League Soccer from 2021-2022 is known for his work rate, energy and pace. These assets will be crucial for the Reggae Boyz as they prepare for multiple games on North American soil in the new year. He is a player coach Heimir Halgrimsson is a big fan of, and could prove to be a wildcard option this year.
#4 – Richard King – Defender
2022 was a year to remember for Richard King as he traveled to four continents of the globe with matches in North and South America, Europe and Africa. In the space of 12 months he went from making his debut for Jamaica to now being an undroppable member of the squad. His calm and measured approach is one that has grown on Reggae Boyz fans throughout his involvement in the national team. If a US Visa can be secured an MLS Contract could be on the horizon for 2023. King adds something Heimir Halgrimsson loves in his 4-4-2 philosophy – a central defender who reads the game well and times tackles excellently. King is one to keep a close eye on in 2023.
#3 – Leon Bailey – Forward
Since making his debut in 2019, interest and expectations of Leon Bailey have risen. Now with Bailey playing in England, the interest and the expectation will rise even more as he becomes a more integral member of the squad. In national colors, his best performances have come in recent games. The hope is that the spell he had in the latter stages of the World Cup Qualifiers and the Nations League can be replicated in the Gold Cup and Nations League in 2023. Bailey has already been identified by Halgrimsson as a core player, so we can expect Bailey to be heavily featured under his spell.
#2 Joel Latibeaudere – Midfielder
Defensive midfield has always been an area of concern for Jamaica. With the injury concerns of Kevin Stewart and efforts being made to improve on this area of the pitch, Latibeaudere offers a solution to one of a few problems. Latibeaudere, who helped England win the U17 FIFA World Cup in 2017, played for the Reggae Boyz vs Catalonia in 2022 and can operate either as a centre half or as a holding midfielder. His ability to neutralize the opposition will be critical for the Reggae Boyz in 2023.
#1 Omari Hutchinson – Forward
There are many reasons why Omari Hutchinson is at the top of this list. He is still technically uncapped as his game for Jamaica vs Catalonia was an unofficial game which still makes him eligible for England. With Gareth Southgate willing to expand his attacking options, Jamaica will need to cap tie him as soon as possible. Once this is achieved, Jamaica are looking at a player that can serve them well for the next decade. Someone who has the ability to change the game in an instant, Omari is a mercurial talent on the rise and his involvement in the national team would not only help Jamaica win trophies but it also helps them make 2026 a reality.
Do let us know your thoughts of this top 5.