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Overseas scouts, agents, coaches not impressed by Jamaica's under-20

Published:Tuesday | January 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMGordon Williams
Paul Clarke photo United States midfielder Russell Canouse (right) slides in to tackle his Jamaican counterpart, Cardel Benbow, during Sunday night's CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship Group A football match at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. Benbow is a rare Jamaican player to have gotten some praise from scouts at the tournament. Jamaica lost the match 2-0.

Professional agents, coaches and scouts, who have flocked from overseas to the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in search of football talent, have been left shocked and disappointed with the quality of Jamaica's players.

As Jamaica dropped near the bottom of Group A in the final round of 2015 World Cup qualifiers, assessment of their play plummeted even further in the eyes of representatives ranging from United States colleges to premier European clubs.

"What I see now is not good enough," said Humphry Nijmon, managing director of Football Mix B.V. and players' agent representing three top clubs in Holland and one in Belgium, while attending Jamaica's 2-0 loss to Panama.

"Some have talent, but they would still need to do more to be successful in Europe ... . Technically, Jamaica needs to improve. Technically, they need to get higher. It's not what I expected."

Nijmon praised the Jamaicans for "playing with heart", but wasn't impressed by their ability in other areas.

"Their ball handling speed needs to go up and also their decision-making needs to be better," he explained.

Nijmon flatly said "no" when asked if he would sign any Jamaican player. He wasn't alone. Agent Remy Cherin, of Remington Ellis Management in the United States, said Jamaicans' stock has fallen.

"I came here thinking I'd like Jamaican players," said Cherin, who is familiar with Reggae Boyz in North America's college and professional ranks, "but I don't see a lot of the qualities I typically see in the Jamaican players in the United States."

 

underprepared

 

Consensus among the overseas-based observers is Jamaican players were technically deficient, tactically unaware and under-prepared.

"I'm shocked this is the best Jamaica can do," said an agent who declined to be identified. "They are not ready for the pros."

Even group cellar dwellers Aruba rated higher than Jamaica in some areas.

"I think Aruba is more technically and tactically organised," said Cherin. "I am disappointed in Jamaica."

Mosiah Marshall, a Jamaica-born agent who has hosted agents and scouts for several European clubs, said his guests haven't warmed to young local talent.

"(They) have not been able to select any player so far from the Jamaican team that they would work with," Marshall said at the Panama match.

Cherin believes some Boyz, while not immediately ready for the pros, could benefit from playing in US colleges. But college coaches attending the tournament were dismayed by what they've seen.

"I just don't think they are good enough," said one coach, who also declined to be identified.

However, some observers were willing to cut the players some slack, believing Jamaica's team strategy didn't help

individuals.

"There was no tactical order in the team," said Edgardo Ruben Carles Cal, president of Panama-based Relc Agency, after watching the Boyz play T&T. "... Jamaica does not look prepared."

Cal, who represents primarily Panamanians, said there "was some good individual talent" in Jamaica's team, but warned players may need to go overseas to improve. Midfielder Cardel Benbow, in particular, needed urgent development.

"It's probably best for him to leave Jamaica quickly," said Cal. "... If he waits, it may be too late."