Audley Boyd, Assistant Sport Editor
John Barnes ... to take the helm on November 1. - File
NOTHING, IT seems, really happens before its time. After having his name bandied about with technical duties relating to Jamaica's football, John Barnes will finally get his day in the sun as head coach of the Reggae Boyz, beginning November 1.
Captain Horace Burrell, president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), yesterday announced Barnes in the capacity of head coach following an extra-ordinary meeting among the JFF board to ratify a replacement for former technical director René Simoes at its New Kingston headquarters.
Burrell also named Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore as interim head coach for next month's qualifiers and said all Jamaica's top players, including Marlon King who was shunned by Simoes, will be invited for the upcoming games.
"The board of directors of the JFF has approved the appointment of Mr John Barnes, former England international, as the head coach of the national senior team, com-mencing November 1, 2008," said Burrell. "The board has approved his appointment for a period of one year, which will be up for review, and possibly renewal."
The Jamaica-born Barnes, who attended St George's College before migrating as a teen to England with his father, army colonel Ken, who was seconded to the British regiment at the time.
Burrell noted Barnes' worldwide recognition as being key to his appointment.
"When you are involved in international football you need an individual with international stature. Having a coach of international repute opens a number of opportunities for our national team," he said.
"Many countries will invite you to play friendlies only because of the image and reputation of your coach," Burrell added. "When an icon like John Barnes becomes the coach of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz' team, immediately the international spotlight will shine on Jamaica in every single aspect of the sport."
The JFF president did not divulge any salary details.
"I'm not prepared to discuss any details of the coach's salary at this time, but it will not be any more than the amount paid to Professor Simoes," he said.
Simoes was paid US$600,000 per annum.
"Right now, my focus is not on money. My focus is not even wanting to talk about finance," stated Burrell. "My focus is to talk about Jamaica's performance."
Barnes' first task will include Jamaica's November 19 World Cup qualifier against Canada at 'The Office', then the eight-team Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals that will be hosted here in December.
The latter serves as a qualifier to next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will be hosted by the United States.
Bottom of table
Brazilian Simoes, who served as technical director, was fired by Burrell at 1:00 a.m. last Thursday, hours after the team lost a crucial World Cup qualifier 2-0 against Honduras in San Pedro Sula.
The loss left Jamaica bottom of the table in the four-nation semi-final series on one point, alongside Canada but five adrift second-placed Honduras and eight off Mexico, who lead the group on maximum nine points.
Whitmore, former captain and two-goal World Cup hero of Jamaica's historic 1998 France appearance who served as an assistant coach under Simoes, will handle the reins for the two World Cup qualifying matches in October, as Barnes will be unavailable due to commitments he now has as a television commentator.
When Barnes joins the national programme, Whitmore will serve as his assistant
All Players invited
Jamaica play Mexico on October 11, then Honduras days later on the 15th, both at 'The Office', knowing that anything but victory means the end of their qualification hopes. Only three matches remain and two teams will qualify.
Despite the team's precarious position, Burrell says his board has mandated the coaching staff to name its strongest team and is confident the side will advance.
"The federation has made it quite clear that the strongest squad is to be selected and therefore, it can be expected that our strongest players in the US and Europe will be invited," Burrell declared. "All our players, including Marlon King."