Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Duckie situation unfortunate – Ricketts

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2019 | 12:23 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts has described as “unfortunate” comments made by national Under-23 head coach Donovan Duckie in the wake of a string of poor results from the team at the Olympic qualifiers and the Pan American Games.

The coach, who previously accepted responsibility for the team’s results, has changed his tune and is now pointing fingers at the JFF, which he believes should shoulder some of the blame due to their failure to provide a dedicated physical trainer for the team during their eight-month preparation period.

Duckie, who has come under heavy pressure following the team’s embarrassing exit from the Olympic qualifiers, which took place in Jamaica, and their losing start to the Pan American Games, which is currently under way in Lima, Peru, is heard in a voice recording saying that the federation is just as culpable for the team’s dismal performance as he is.

The experienced coach pointed to the lack of proper physical conditioning as a major factor behind the team’s poor results.

“When I took the work (Under-23 coach), there were certain conditionalities that were expected. The JFF were to provide a physical trainer, but for over eight months, the physical trainer only came to our training sessions for three days. I can say that this is the worst physically prepared team I have seen in my entire life. Over the 22 years I have coached, this is the worst-conditioned team I have coached. They cannot play competitively for more than 60 minutes, hence these are the results, and they are not desirable,” Duckie said.

Ricketts, while noting that he could not speak definitively on the comments, having not met with Duckie or the JFF’s leadership, admitted that the situation was not ideal.

“That (comments) is something we will have to discuss when we review the whole performance. I have not had all the details, but we will certainly review everything that led to this poor showing of this under-23 team, and that (the comments) will be a part of the discussion. I don’t want to speak on the details, I have not heard all the comments, but we will review the performance. But it’s unfortunate, very unfortunate,” Ricketts said.

Playing in front of their home crowd and featuring one of the most celebrated groups of Under-23 talents assembled to represent the country, Jamaica failed to beat traditional regional minnows Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis, drawing both games 1-1 at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex earlier this month.

Duckie’s team then surrendered a 1 -0 lead to Honduras, losing 3-1 in their opening Pan American Games fixture on Monday in Peru.

The results have led to heavy criticism from fans of the sport, with calls coming from all quarters for the coach’s dismissal.

Duckie, however, hit back and decided that enough was enough and that he would no longer shoulder all the blame, hitting back at his denouncers and pointing to the JFF, which he believes should also come under criticism for their failure to provide the necessary support for the team

“I can’t take no more,” Duckie stated. “I want to talk the whole truth let Jamaica hear. I have been accused of being an antagonist and a person who lacks diplomacy. For months, I have been saying on many interviews, everything is okay with the under-23 programme. In my last interview, I said I took full responsibility for the failure of the team to progress. But to tell you the truth, the responsibility [has] to be shared.”

The JFF is expected to meet with the coach after his return from the Pan American Games.

The young Reggae Boyz will face Uruguay tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in their next match.