Ricketts: Improved ranking prepares Boyz for League of Nations
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts has said that the national senior men's team's improved FIFA Coca-Cola World Ranking will aid the programme in keeping players active over the next year.
The Reggae Boyz have moved up five places in the world ranking to 54, meaning they are the top ranked Caribbean team with Haiti next best in 57th spot.
The Jamaicans' last international match was a 5-2 defeat to hosts Saudi Arabia on October 7, but because of logistical issues on the part of the Middle Eastern team's football association, that fixture was regarded as a training match by FIFA. As such, the team's last recognised friendly international game was a 2-0 loss in Toronto to Canada on September 2.
Ricketts said that he intends to see the programme continue to improve the ranking over the next several months in order to attract more friendlies against top international teams.
"I am absolutely delighted [with the ranking]," he told The Gleaner. "I don't want to be like one of our former coaches who said it really doesn't make a difference. I think it does. Even getting practice games, if you have not attained a certain level in ranking, then you don't attract good practice games.
NEED TO MAINTAIN RANKING
Ricketts mentioned that as long as the Reggae Boyz maintain their ranking, the team will be in the top division of the upcoming CONCACAF League of Nations tournament to be played across the region starting next year.
"It is even more important now that this League of Nations competition is in the making, because teams will be placed based on how you rank," he said. "This will be a three-tier competition, which means that the higher-rated teams will be in the top tier, and of course, based on your ratings, you will be paired. The competition, as it is drafted right now, will have a promotion/relegation structure. So it is important that we attain and maintain the highest ranking possible because it will impact our image on the international stage."
Ricketts is also mindful of the new tournament removing the availability of dates for practice games, but said that the JFF has already been making plans for this.
"The more games you play, the more our chances to improve our ranking, so between now and the start of the League of Nations, we will, as best as possible, try to play as many games as we can," he said. "When this competition starts - and it may start September next year - the FIFA dates will no longer be available for practice games. It doesn't mean that we won't have practice games, but it will mean that we won't be able to play them on FIFA dates.
"But we have an agent that has been shopping around for dates for us, and we have been having that discussion with him in this regard. We want to play as many games as we can to improve our world ranking."