Many challenges ahead as JFF names 35 for W Cup qualifiers
With Jamaica having to navigate the prospect of their United Kingdom-based players not being available for their first three World Cup qualifying games, former national Under-17 coach Davion Ferguson says that the members of the Reggae Boyz's coaching staff have made an acceptable compromise in expanding the player pool for their upcoming games.
Jamaica released their 35-man roster for their games against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica as their 2022 World Cup qualifying journey is set to begin on Thursday in Mexico City.
The Jamaica Football Federation, in a release yesterday, said that while 16 United Kingdom-based players have been called up, the majority may not feature for all three games because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
While not an ideal situation personnel-wise, Ferguson said that the coaching staff made the best out of a bad situation in ensuring that they could have a squad good enough to compete as they begin their qualifying campaign.
"It's the best that the technical staff could have done with the short notice and the conditions currently at hand," Ferguson told STAR Sports.
The English Premier League (EPL) last week refused to release their players for matches in designated red list countries by the UK. However, since then some clubs in Europe, as well as the EPL, have released some of their players.
In a statement yesterday, the JFF outlined how they would juggle the England contingent for the three games.
"Some of the players will be utilised in the two away games versus Mexico and Costa Rica, while others will only be activated for the home game against Panama. There are others who will play critical roles in all three encounters," the statement read.
Ferguson says that the current situation means that no less than a win will be acceptable when they host Panama on Sunday at the National Stadium.
"That Panama game, in terms of result, is definitely three points that we have to (get). Mexico if we have to go there given the circumstances and get a point that would be a good point. And then head to Costa Rica for the last game where anything is possible."
The 35-man roster is highlighted by the inclusion of West Ham striker Michail Antonio who after declaring his intention to play for the Reggae Boyz in March gets his first national call-up. Ranger's striker Kemar Roofe also makes his first national team. Some of the players will arrive in Mexico by today while the rest of the available contingent including coaching staff will leave this afternoon on a charter flight at 1 p.m.
SQUAD: Andre Blake* - Philadelphia Union, Dillion Barnes* - Queens Park Rangers, Dennis Taylor* - Humble Lion, Ethan Pinnock - Brentford FC, Damion Lowe* - Al Ittihad, Adrian Mariappa* - Free Agent, Liam Moore - Reading FC, Alvas Powell* - Philadelphia Union, Wesley Harding - Rotterham United, Kemar Lawrence* - Toronto FC, Amari'i Bell - Luton Town, Ravel Morrison - Derby County, Daniel Johnson - Preston North End, Devon Williams* - Miami FC, Kevin Stewart - Blackpool FC, Bobby Reid - Fulham FC, Junior Flemmings* - Birmingham Legion, Leon Bailey - Aston Villa, Jamal Lowe - Swansea City,
Michail Antonio - West Ham United, Kemar Roofe - Rangers, Cory Burke* - Philadelphia Union, Shamar Nicholson* - RSC Charleroi, Oniel Fisher* - LA Galaxy, Blair Turgott* - Ostersunds, Norman Campbell* - FK Cukaricki, Ricardo Morris* - Portmore United, Anthony Grant* - Swindon Town, Tyreek Magee* - Eupen, Lamar Walker* - Miami FC, Peter Lee Vassell* - Indy Eleven, Javon East* - Santos de Guapiles, Romario Williams* - Qadsia SC, Javain Brown* - Vancouver Whitecaps, Richard King* - Cavalier SC. *Available for Mexico game on Thursday.