Reggae Boyz to tackle Kenya in Connecticut
Audley Boyd, Sports Editor
JAMAICA'S Reggae Boyz have lined up yet another friendly international football match ahead of their September 7 World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) clash against the United States.
"We've confirmed a game against the African team Kenya, to be played in the United States in Connecticut on the 25th of August," Captain Horace Burrell, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president, told The Gleaner by phone yesterday from London, England, where he is serving on the FIFA panel at the Olympic Games.
The Jamaicans had already booked a game against Central American country El Salvador, which will be played on Wednesday, August 15, in Washington, DC.
"Both CONCACAF and the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) have now confirmed the game and all the arrangements are in place," Burrell pointed out, to validate the contest, in light of a recent controversy in which the Boyz were being promoted to play another African team, Liberia, in the US.
However, the USSF and JFF subsequently denied that any such match was on the cards as it was not sanctioned by the sport's ruling body in America.
This one against Kenya, though, is for real and will add to the teams' preparation for important international assignments.
"It's another game to give coach Whitmore (Theodore) and his staff an opportunity to fine-tune ahead of World Cup Qualifiers," Burrell observed. "This game is being used as a warm-up for both Kenya and Jamaica, in particular, who will bow into action against the United States in 'The Office' on September 7.
"Kenya are also involved in World Cup Qualifying," he revealed.
Following the September 7 encounter, Jamaica will make a visit to the United States for a WCQ return match on September 11 in Columbus, Ohio.
Burrell pointed out that the Jamaica team to play Kenya will be without some of its regular players as August 25 is not a FIFA date and, as such, the clubs to which they are employed are not at liberty to release them. However, he promised to assemble the strongest team possible.
"The game is expected to give an opportunity to many of our local-based players as August 25 is outside of the FIFA date," Burrell stated.
He added: "Although it's outside of the FIFA date, all efforts are being made to get as many of the overseas-based players ... and also the most talented among the locals," he said. "We'll be trying to get some of the US-based players."
The team departs Jamaica on August 23, and currently lies second in CONCACAF WCQ quadrangular play-offs with four points. The US lead the group on the basis of a superior goal difference. El Salvador are next with one point, while Antigua and Barbuda, the fourth country in the group, are yet to get off the mark. All the teams have played two matches.