Duckie talks up Olympic qualifying squad
The Jamaica national U-23 football team has been slowly flying under the radar since its selection and after months of work and preparation, head coach Donovan Duckie believes that in the time leading up to the Caribbean phase of the Concacaf Olympics qualifiers, the Boyz are ready to make their mark.
“I’m very comfortable with what we’re doing so far,” Duckie said in a recent interview with JFF Live. “The guys have been working hard and they’re enjoying themselves. We’re doing a lot of discussions with them a lot of reflections – self-reflections and team reflections.”
The team has brought together some of Jamaica’s best and brightest football talents to represent the country for a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games next year.
The competition is set to run from July 17 to 21 and will consist of four groups made up of four teams. The winner of each group will advance to a play-off stage where the subsequent winners will earn a spot in the Concacaf men’s Olympics qualifying final stage where they will face off against teams from the North and Central American regions for a spot at the Olympics.
Duckie explained that the preparation, so far, has included meeting a series of set daily objectives that the team works towards, coupled with various practice matches against local opposition, citing parish teams that have signalled their intent to play against the Jamaican selection.
Going forward for the team also includes matches against overseas opponents.
“We’re also eyeing an international camp where we are targeting practice games abroad. That will take us about two weeks to the tournament. In the third week leading up to the tournament, we’re planning to mimic the competition, which is important to us,” Duckie said.
A feature of the tournament is that there will only be a one day rest period between matches and Duckie explained that the upcoming sets of matches will follow this set-up as a way to see how well the players are able to adjust to the work load.
An important facet for the team, the coach explained, is the plethora of talent that they can draw from to help their push towards an Olympic berth.
“These guys are probably like a golden generation: Alex Marshall and Kaheem Parris just to name a few. Venton Evans, from Portmore, and many more like Jamoi Topey. A lot of quality players that are known to the Jamaican public are involved in this squad.”
The team has been seeded as one of the top four teams from the Caribbean region, and has been drawn in Group A with St Kitts and Nevis, Guyana, and Dominica.
– Gregory Bryce