Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Kelly's World | Yuh cyaan depen' pon odda people!

Published:Monday | September 12, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Adrian Mariappa (foreground) challenges for the ball with Mexico’s Andres Guardado during the CONCACAF Gold Cup final last year. Mariappa says the Reggae Boyz will be going all out for victory against Haiti in tonight’s final 2018 World Cup qualifier at the National Stadium.

Flashback to World Cup 2014.

When that tournament was just about at its midway point, I wrote a column about what I learned about human nature from watching the games. One of the things I noted was that people were cheering for the teams from CONCACAF, the confederation that Jamaica is attached to. They weren't cheering because they wanted to show solidarity with our regional brethren, however. No, no, they wanted those teams to do well so that world football's governing body, FIFA, would smile favourably on the region and give us another place for future tournaments.

So I wrote that I would not be cheering for any CONCACAF team that I didn't usually cheer for. For the record I cheer for Mexico. I don't cheer like 'that' because I think it will benefit me. If mi like you, mi like you. Simple. Massa, I was taken to task by a few people who pointed out that in previous editions of the World Cup, CONCACAF teams did well, and subsequent places were added for the region. One of those places, for the tournament in France in 1998, benefited Jamaica. Hooray (sarcasm dripping)! That's all well and good. But CONCACAF's final group has six teams. Now there are three automatic spots, and the fourth team has to contest a play-off.

So, look yah now. Jamaica's Reggae Boyz did not even make it to the final qualifying group for World Cup 2018. And guess what else? In the 2014 campaign, we finished last in the final group. So if FIFA gave us four automatic places, we wouldn't qualify! Better yet, by not even getting to the final round this time, FIFA coulda did gi CONCACAF all six spots from di group, we still wouldn't reach nuh weh! The fact that we haven't made the World Cup since that 1998 excursion actually tells you everything you need to know. How many more places can we expect to get from FIFA? Because OTHER teams did well? That's the problem I have with Jamaican people. We love tings 'ready done'. We think that we can build our football programme AFTER qualifying for World Cups. That's about as flawed as my concepts about love, modern-day relationships and women.

You cannot build a house from the roof down. It HAS to be from the foundation up. Look at Nigeria. The Super Eagles qualified for the senior World Cup for the first time in 1994. But they had qualified for three under-20 World Cups before that. And at the under-17 level, they had won two of those championships and finished second in another by the time 1994 came around. You see my point? You can't sit around and hope and pray for the success of other teams to help you get to major tournaments. Nuh sankey nuh sing so! You get to World Cups by building up your own youth programmes.

So whether it requires a change of coach or administration (or both), we must rebuild. Because Mexico and US cannot carry us to World Cup inna dem suitcase. Later.

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