Orville Higgins, Contributor
The hierarchy of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) cannot be breathing easy. Whether they want to admit it or not, what happened at the Caribbean Cup was an absolute embarrassment.
Nobody expects a team to win every time they play, but for the two-time defending champions to crash out of the Caribbean tournament by finishing last in their zone is completely unacceptable. We didn't win a single game. We scored a grand total of one goal in three games! And this for a team in the final stages of a World Cup qualifying tournament.
The panic button needs to be pressed. Hard! It is time we call a spade a spade. The JFF cannot behave as if it is business as usual. It has to ask itself some serious questions and be prepared to make some tough decisions.
One of the questions that must be asked is whether the cadre of Brazilians is value for money. Collectively, we are told they make US$50,000 per month. That, by international standards, is not a great deal. Most top-quality international coaches would probably be paid more than that per month.
The JFF justified the instalment of the Brazilian coaches in the national programmes with the argument that, comparatively speaking, they came at a bargain price. It's a fair argument, but what exactly are we paying for? No matter how cheap is a good or service, if it's not doing what it was intended to do, it was too expensive! Even if they come relatively cheaply, they still have to be worth the expenditure, and at this point in time, it is difficult for anyone to convince me that they are worth their pay.
I saw the Under-20 team playing in the CONCACAF qualifiers, and though we made it past the first round, I was far from impressed. I have seen a few schoolboy teams in Jamaica this season that play a better brand of football! That team is conditioned by Luciana Gama, and his job surely must be up for scrutiny.
We have a cadre of coaches in Jamaica who have excellent track records at coaching at the youth level. I believe the Under-20s would look no worse with any one of them in charge, and they would come far cheaper too!
The senior team scraped through the last round of qualifiers, playing anywhere between reasonably good and pathetic football. At no stage did we look brilliant, except maybe in that final game against Antigua, who were the biggest 'bramble' side in our zone anyway.
The technical director and assistant coach of the senior team are Brazilian, and there is absolutely nothing 'Brazilian' about how Jamaica are playing at the moment. Brazilian football is based on ball artistry, creative and eye-catching passes, and brilliant and breathtaking goals. Looking at how the national teams are playing now, the Brazilians seem not to be teaching us anything, or maybe we are just not learning! Either way, something has to give.
Give Neville Bell the job
Captain Horace Burrell has got to do some soul-searching. He may well be on the horns of a dilemma. He may well recognise the problems and not be immediately aware what the solutions are. Well, let me help. There is no reason why Neville Bell shouldn't be given the job of coaching the Under-20s.
Bell's track record, in the last few years, demands it. His players at St George's look better when they play schoolboy football than when they are on the national team, because I genuinely believe they play for Bertis in a way they aren't playing for Mr Gama. If Bertis' fear of flying can't be overcome, we drug him and put him to sleep on the plane when the team has to travel!
As for the senior team, Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore must now be walking a chalk line. I would suggest keeping him for a while longer at least, but we may have to find somebody else to work with him as his assistant. That somebody must be someone who Tappa feels comfortable with, and may even help to hand-pick, but it must be someone who has a track record of winning and who has the respect of the players, whether he is locally based or not.
KLAS's Orville Higgins is a sportscaster. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.