Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Jamaica Football Fede-ration (JFF) president, Captain Horace Burrell, is very pleased with the scheduled times for the country's first three World Cup Qualifiers, especially the nation's initial game away to Mexico on February 6, which is slated for a 9:30 p.m. kick-off.
The Reggae Boyz will then host Panama at the National Stadium on March 22, with that match set for 8:30 p.m., and four days later, on March 26, play away to Costa Rica at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose. Kick-off time for that match is 9 p.m.
"In the case of the game in Mexico, I think it is a blessing in disguise because, knowing Mexico City, if the game was to be played earlier I think it would be more disadvantageous to us in terms of the altitude and the heat," Burrell told The Gleaner. "When those two factors (heat and altitude) are against you, then teams will start at a tremendous disadvantage. So having the game at that time is best for us, and also I am sure they have crowd support in mind."
Burrell anticipates a capacity crowd of 110,000 people to turn out at the Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City for the match.
"I am sure they will have a capacity crowd," Burrell predicted. "To pack in 110,000 people you must have enough time, and again it is a working day, so I think the Mexican Federation would have taken that into consideration, hence the time."
Crowd support is the main reason why the JFF has opted for an 8:30 p.m. starting time for the team's first home game in the final round of qualifying.
"We have decided on 8:30; it is our choice and we have decided on that because we have to think about the fans; not only the fans in Kingston but those travelling from outside of Kingston after work," Burrell expressed.
There will not be a camp prior to the opening game, as Burrell anticipates the team to consist of predominately overseas-based players. The players, including the eight new recruits, will travel directly to Mexico from their various clubs.
"I expect that majority of the players are going to be foreign based, so there is absolutely no need for a local based camp," Burrell reasoned. "It would be pointless having a local camp and then the players are not going to be playing.
"They (players) will be flying to Mexico via the United States and some may fly directly into Mexico. Most of the European players have games on February 2 so they won't be released until the third."
It will cost the federation in excess of $15m to fund participation in the game in Mexico; prompting Burrell to yet again plead for corporate assistance.
"We are in need of substantial financial assistance for the programme," Burrell said. "We will be meeting with a number of corporate leaders and I am very optimistic that before long we will get assistance from corporate Jamaica."