Mon | Oct 15, 2018

FIFA top 50: Hard to get here, harder to stay here - Whitmore

Published:Saturday | February 17, 2018 | 12:08 AM
Jamaica senior men's football team head coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore (right) relays instructions to his players during a training session last August.

Jamaica's coach, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore, is pleased that the Reggae Boyz have broken into the top 50 in the FIFA ranking for the first time since 2005. The team currently sits dead even at 50th in the latest ranking, which was released on Thursday, but the former Reggae Boys midfielder believes it will take a monster effort to remain there or climb further up the ranking.

"It's not only me who wanted this. The whole football fraternity including the players and staff wanted it because maybe it means more games, more exposure and bigger contracts for our players. So it (top 50 ranking) is very important the way we approach and do things. We try our best with what we have, and that will play an important role in ensuring the team stays in that 50 rank," Whitmore said.

Being in the FIFA top 50 means the nation's players will again become eligible for work permits in England, the country most local players desire to play in. However, the team must maintain its place in the top 50 for a period of time to reactivate the work-permit privileges and attract more international games against renowned teams.

HAVE TO BE VIGILANT

"One of the most important thing is going to be consistency, we have to be consistent because we still want to go lower than that (50). With more games, we can do that and with more games the players will get a bigger boost and we still want to see how far we can go up that ranking, so it will be important to get good results in these games," he continued.

He added that they will have to be vigilant and work together to continue to make improvements all around.

"The stakeholders, including the federation, plays a big role and we just have to hold the bull by the horn and be positive. We know what we want to do and what we want to achieve going forward but we have to work very hard and we have to work together to make it happen," he added.

Since 2005 when Jamaica was ranked 42nd the Reggae Boyz have not broken into the top 50. They did come close on a few occasions but their rating has been unstable and has fluctuated through the years. After falling to 57th in 2006 and then 97th a year later, the team fought back to 51st in 2012, just one place above the top 50. But they slipped to 80th the following year. They climbed back to 54th in 2015 but they again slumped to 77th a year later.

But after a successful 2017 where the team won the Caribbean Cup, was second in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and did well in international friendlies, the team has jumped from 54th in 2017 to 50th in 2018 for the first time in over 12 years.

Wendell Downswell was coach the last time Jamaica broke into the top 50.