Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
Two Reggae Boyz who helped the country reach the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, before being cast aside, are now crying foul.
Last year, Jamaica advanced to the CONCACAF six-team round-robin play-offs for the first time since 2002 and it sparked a total overhaul of the squad.
The Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) went on a massive recruitment drive with seven British-born players and one Germany-based player being called to the squad last November, with a few others drafted along the way.
The influx of British players, who were eligible to play for the country as a result of their parents or grandparents having hailed from the island, left some of the Jamaica-born players on the sidelines.
"I felt hard done by that, because after being a key player in the team that helped the team to qualify for the final round, played 90 minutes in all the games and then I'm not in the 23-man squad," central midfielder Jason Morrison said.
"How can you justify that? That's hard to take. The first game against Mexico, I was on the bench, didn't even play, and then I'm not even in the 23."
The 29-year-old Morrison had formed a central midfield partnership with Rodolph Austin during the semi-final round, but this role was taken over by Marvin Elliot, who currently plays for Bristol City in England's second division.
Morrison, who plays for Norwegian Premier League club, Aalesund, made the bench for the opening final-round game away to Mexico, after which he underwent a minor knee surgery.
"After I recovered, they took their own decision and I was left out. I don't know why," Morrison shared. "If you notice, the team that we had for the semi-final round and this team in the final round are completely different teams. You don't have the same core or the same chemistry."
Morrison believes the lack of this chemistry has resulted in Jamaica being on the brink of missing out on the next World Cup, as the country now sits at the foot of the six-team standings with a mere four points from eight games.
"Even the team that won all three games in the final round at the stadium, when we defeated America for the first time, most of those players have not been seen after that," Morrison highlighted.
"So I think the mentality of the federation has a big part to play in why we are struggling so much. You can't have a team that qualify you for the final round, which you haven't reached in a long time, and then you're going to go for so many new players that have never ever played for Jamaica before.
"You don't need so many new players. You have to just look at where you need strengthening and strengthen [that]. If your team was so bad, they wouldn't have qualified for the final round. So when you bring so many players from England, thinking they are going to qualify you for the World Cup, it is not going to happen, because there is no chemistry, no core. We lost the root of Jamaican football."
Another central midfielder, Damion Williams, who formed part of Jamaica's 2011 Gold Cup squad, which made it to the quarter-finals and played some of the best football in the country's recent history, believes that crop of players should have formed the core of the current squad.
"The last Gold Cup squad, which was mainly local players and players who were born here, was gelling together nicely, and coming up to the World Cup qualifiers, they just made a drastic change and you have to be playing in England," the Portmore United man, Williams, shared.
"That squad should be playing in the World Cup Qualifiers right now, and then look at the squad and bring in players to strengthen it, but you can't just weed out everybody.
"A lot of the players feel a way about it. (Even players now in the squad) feel it, too, because we were like a family and I don't know what went wrong."
At the start of the second half during Jamaica's match against Costa Rica on Tuesday, there were nine United Kingdom-born players on the field of play representing the country.
And it does not seem that the practice of recruiting overseas players will be changing anytime soon, based on what the president of the JFF, Captain Horace Burrell, said during an interview with The Gleaner on Sunday, September 8.
"One of the reasons why it is difficult to select our local footballers is that they have no international exposure and, therefore, our football cannot improve as much as we would want to. Thankfully, those players who play in the overseas clubs are exposed and continue to get that exposure and, therefore, they can benefit us. Without our overseas players, we have no chance," Burrell said.