Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Under-17 head coach Wendell Downswell said the national programme has suffered a major setback in the quest for qualification to this year's FIFA World Cup, as prolific goalscorer Jaheel Hydel has decided to pursue a career in track and field instead of football.
Downswell told The Gleaner yesterday that Hyde's decision is a major blow to the national team now currently preparing for the CONCACAF final round of the qualification next month.
HE WILL BE MISSED
"He will be sadly missed," said Downswell. "He is a prolific goalscorer, he has a good work rate and he is a good team person and, therefore, we will miss him a lot."
"He has decided to do track and field, but I wish it was football, but that just how life goes sometimes," Downswell stated.
Hyde, the son of former national footballer Lenworth 'Teacher' Hyde, represented Wolmer's Boys in last season's Manning Cup competition. He is the current Carifta Games Under-17 110 metres hurdles champion, with a personal best time of 13.96.
Hyde netted a hat-trick against Bermuda in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) first- round qualifiers last year.
HARD TO REPLACE
Downswell added that it is going to very difficult to find a replacement for Hyde, who ended with five goals in the CFU first-round qualifiers, which were held in Jamaica last year.
"We are working hard now to find a quality replacement for him, and we are hoping that we will be able to find somebody to fill the gap that he has left," said Downswell.
"I am hoping that we will qualify for the World Cup and then, as a result of us qualifying, that will entice him to come back, once it does not clash with his athletics," Downswell said.
Hyde is now preparing for the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls' Championships, scheduled for March 12-16 at the National Stadium.