Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's national senior men's head coach, Winfried 'Winnie' Schäfer, has included popular local striker Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson in a 27-man training squad in preparation for the country's next two CONCACAF final round World Cup qualifiers.
Schäfer, who was appointed last July following the resignation of previous coach Theodore 'Tappa' Whitmore after four consecutive losses in this round, selected the squad from which a final 23 or 24 will travel to Panama on Thursday morning for the game a day later.
The squad was announced at a press conference at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) office in New Kingston yesterday afternoon. They were scheduled to have a practice session last night at the Stadium East. The team will also train today and tomorrow at the same venue, starting at 7 p.m. each day before the final squad is named.
Anderson won the leading goalscorer award in the local Red Stripe Premier League in back-to-back seasons but was ignored by Whitmore, despite loud calls for his inclusion.
Coming back into the squad are Marlon King, Chris Humphrey and Luton Shelton, who were dropped from previous squads for various reasons. Wes Morgan, captain of English Championship team Leicester City, and Shaun Cummings of Reading are the only newcomers.
"Teamwork is very important. I did not see that in some games (he reviewed). We need a very good, strong team, and we will have a shot. It won't be easy, but we have a team to win the games," Schäfer said.
"We are a Jamaican team. We must go and fight for 90 minutes against Panama. We are the Reggae Boyz and must go to Panama and win," he added.
Pleased with Commitment
Coach Schäfer also said he met with the players based in England and the United States and was pleased with the commitment, hence the 27-man squad was selected. He also watched Panama during the Gold Cup tournament recently.
"We are not worried about other teams. We have to fight for the ball, be aggressive in defending. The team has to fight when we lose the ball. Everybody in the squad has a chance of making the final team," the coach said.
"Players must have heart, must want to represent Jamaica," he emphasised.
After the game against Panama on Friday, the Reggae Boyz will face Costa Rica next Tuesday at the National Stadium, starting at 7 p.m.
With four rounds remaining in the CONCACAF hexagonal stage, Jamaica are rooted at the bottom of the six-team group with only two points from six games and harbour slim hopes of advancing to next year's World Cup in Brazil.
At the completion of the final phase in October, the top-three finishers will advance to Brazil while the fourth-place team will play off with the winners of the Oceania group for another spot.
The full squad is: Adrian Marriappa, Adrian Reid, Alvas Powell, Chris Humphrey, Daniel Gordon, Darren Mattocks, Donovan Ricketts, Dwayne Miller, Garath McLeary, Gariece McPherson, Jermaine Anderson, Jermaine Beckford, Jermaine Johnson, Jobi McAnuff, Kemar Lawrence, Lloyd Doyley, Luton Shelton, Marlon King, Marvin Elliott, O'Brian Woodbine, Rodolph Austin, Ryan Johnson, Shaun Cummins, Theo Robinson, Wes Morgan and Wolry Wolfe.