DAMION LOWE: It’s our time now
National defender Damion Lowe says that Jamaica is no longer content with just being another difficult adversary in the region, but rather to challenge consistently for Concacaf supremacy.
The 27-year-old Lowe was speaking on Thursday in a wide-ranging Gleaner Instagram Live interview where, he discussed his time at Norwegian Club IK Start and his potential next destination, his personal growth as a defender, as well as dealing with early pressure in aspiring to be like his father, former national striker Onandi Lowe.
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are currently ranked fourth in Concacaf, according to the latest FIFA rankings, and should they maintain their spot in June, they will qualify for the hexagonal round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup. The Boyz have not made the World Cup finals since 1998 when Onandi Lowe was part of that historic campaign.
Now seasoned in the senior squad with 28 appearances, Damion says that the team must fight against complacency despite recent positive results and set their aspirations higher, whether it’s winning a major regional title or qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
“We can’t settle, we can’t get comfortable, not because we are getting good results now. We have not arrived. We have done nothing. We have not won an international trophy. We have the Caribbean Cup, but that’s Caribbean. We need to be [storming] Concacaf now,” Damion said. “Yes, we have gained a reputation of being one of the powerhouses now in Concacaf. I know that for sure. A lot of these teams don’t want to see us when it’s time to play football in the region.”
What gives Lowe confidence in the Reggae Boyz’s chances to match the heroics of 1998 is the number of local-born players currently in the squad that are plying their trade overseas, from the United States to those establishing themselves in Europe.
“This is the most we’ve had [Jamaica-born] footballers playing professionally overseas. [We are] getting a lot of players in Europe again because there was a time when that wasn’t present. It was just maybe one or two players playing in Europe. There was a gap. Now players are getting more opportunities to go straight from the [local] premier league or high school into the United Soccer League, transitioning from Major League Soccer into Europe, or going straight from Jamaica into Europe,” he said. “That experience we gain while playing in Europe, we carry that back to the national team and it is going to help us a lot.”
Among the national players currently playing in Europe are Shamar Nicholson, Tyreek Magee and Kemar Lawrence, who are all currently playing in Belgium; Leon Bailey who plays in the German Bundesliga with Bayer Leverkusen, and Dever Orgill who is in Turkey.
Lowe says that the potential of the team is no secret and that it is up to them to take care of business.
“Everybody knows that we have the potential. Everybody knows that we are good enough to make it. The players believe that we can make it. It’s just all a matter of formalities, just get the job done.”