Audley Boyd, Assistant Editor - Sport
WITH bigger fish to fry, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) is going to shop in a larger pool.
The big catch: talent to complement what is already on the table as they prepare to wade through next year's CONCACAF Finals and into the big World Cup party at the 2014 Finals in Brazil.
"I'm travelling to the United Kingdom next week accompanied by head coach Theodore Whitmore and his assistant Alfredo Montesso with a view to interviewing a few Jamaican players who have indicated an interest in wearing the Jamaican colours," JFF president Captain Horace Burrell told The Sunday Gleaner in an interview last week.
Six teams will be challenging for three automatic spots. A fourth will playoff with the Oceania champion, most likely New Zealand.
Bolstering the squad is a way of supplying the coaches with the tools they need, according to Burrell.
"I know there has been a lot of criticisms levelled at the coaching staff," Burrell remarked. "But we all have to remember that the coaching staff has to work with the players available to them.
"I'm not going to knock the coaching staff, I'm going to support the coaching staff with the players they are going to select in order to enhance and make the team much stronger."
In terms of names, only Captain Burrell and the lead members of the coaching staff, Whitmore, the head and his assistant, Brazilian Montesso - know what's on the menu. And until whatever deals have been signed, it's a list Burrell is not ready to divulge.
"We've a group of players, we don't want to reveal any of these names until we meet with these players, interview them and are satisfied that they demonstrate the level of commitment," he noted. "We don't think it's a good policy to name the players until we've completed the process."
Noted goalscorer Marlon King (Birmingham City) and Jobi McAnuff (Reading United) are the names that have been mentioned mostly in recent times, while the wily Jermaine Johnson, Ricardo Fuller and versatile Omar Daley are other UK-based attacking players who were omitted from the semi-final stage of World Cup Qualifying.
Burrell pointed out that they are looking for more than just talent.
"(They are) players who are considered much more experienced and more accomplished than the current players," he observed. "But not because a player plies his trade in Europe he has a much better quality than a player that we currently have in our squad, so it is going to be very important to go through this final selection very carefully.
"This is why I say that we're going to be very, very careful about our selections. Our programme is at a crucial stage and any player who is being recruited must fulfil all the necessary requirements that are going to enhance, not hinder, the team that we have.
"For this reason, we're taking coach Whitmore and his assistant, Alfredo Montesso, who will do the final assessment," Burrell noted with regards to reinforcements capable of making a meal of Jamaica's opponents in the six-nation elimination series for the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil.