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Stabroek News

Watch it, 'Bora'! Winning is important
published: Sunday | June 10, 2007

Tony Becca, Contributor

JAMAICA LOST Tuesday night's friendly international against Chile at the National Stadium an it was only by one goal, the defeat was a disappointment to many Jamaicans.

Especially so to those who did not agree with a number of the players selected and the fact that technical director Velibor 'Bora' Milutinovic had said before the match that winning it was not important.

The Reggae Boyz were missing a number of their leading players who ply their trade in the United Kingdom and, according to the people, they should have been invited.

According to Milutinovic, however, he did not need them, their participation was not important at this time, he deliberately did not select the best team for the match and, when the time comes, when it is time to seek qualification for the World Cup, he will do just that.

According to Milutinovic, that is the time to win, that is the time to put your best foot forward and, in many respects, he is right.

Looking for talent

Since his arrival here, Milutinovic has been spending his time looking around. He has been looking for talent, he has pencilled in some names, in an effort to be fair, he must offer them the opportunity to express themselves and what better stage for that than against a foreign team - and a good one at that.

Apart from the fact that the local-based players must be given an opportunity to expose and to develop their skills, Milutinovic made a good point when he asked the question: "Who are we going to use when the overseas-based players can't come?"

Remembering the attitude of some overseas-based players in the past, remembering the many times many of them were invited and, for whatever reason, did not accept or simply did not turn up, that is a good question.

Apart from exposing the local-based players in an effort to develop their skills, Milutinovic must be prepared.

On top of that, and definitely as far as I am concerned, Milutinovic's success as the technical director will not only be judged on whether Jamaica qualify for the next World Cup tournament, but on his impact on local football.

In other words, even if we do qualify, he will be judged on how many local-based players at the time he took over the job were good enough to get into the team.

Interesting opinion

What is really interesting, however, is that in Milutinovic's opinion, winning at this stage is not important.

According to the man from Serbia, there is a time for building and for preparation, there is a time for winning in an effort to qualify, and as a man who is being paid a lot of money for one thing and one thing only - to get Jamaica qualified for the World Cup in South Africa, he may be right.In fact, on that basis, he is right, and very right at that.

As right as he may be, however, Milutinovic is now in Jamaica, he is dealing with Jamaicans; Jamaicans like winning. If he hopes to serve out his contract, if he hopes to maintain the support of his employers, if he hopes to get enough money and enough public support as far as crowds at matches are concerned to help him qualify the Reggae Boyz for South Africa, preparation or not, exposure or not, he had better start winning.

Jamaican people love to win. If their team is winning, they come out in thousands to support them, they dress from head to toe in the colours, they shout, theysing and they dance, and apart from the people paying what is charged at the gates to see their champions in action, money, from all corners, from every corner, comes flooding into the kitty.

When that does not happen, however, when their team loses and continues to lose, they curse and they quarrel, they stay away in disgust, the stands become empty and with the absent people goes the financial support.

Milutinovic may be right. Winning at this stage of the campaign may not be important. To the people, however, to those who control the money, winning is important and if things do not change quickly, he will soon find that out.

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