Sat | Jul 31, 2021

Make the most of the opportunity – Whitmore

No Leon Bailey, but coach encourages invitees ahead of Reggae Boyz triple friendly in Japan

Published:Friday | May 14, 2021 | 12:12 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Whitmore
Whitmore

Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will play three friendly matches in Japan next month, but will have to do without Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey who, according to head coach Theodore Whitmore, was not named to the 30-member squad because he has not yet signed his contract with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).

Whitmore made the disclosure during an online press conference yesterday, which was used to announce the matches and the invited players.

The Reggae Boyz will face Japan in the first game on June 3, before taking on Serbia on June 7. They close out the tour of the Asian country on June 12 with a game against the Japan Olympic team.

Two newcomers were named to the 30-man squad, Queens Park Rangers’ goalkeeper Dillon Barnes and Ostersund FK forward Blair Turgott.

Whitmore noted that Bailey’s absence would be felt, especially given his impressive form in the Bundesliga, but added that he was not eligible for selection due to the absence of a signed agreement between himself and the federation.

“Leon is an important member of the squad and is presently in good form. We look forward to him joining us but the federation has a policy that to be called, each player has to sign a contract, and that is the outstanding issue with Leon, and we are hoping for a resolution as quickly as possible,” Whitmore explained.

“We are only selecting players who have signed the agreed contract with the JFF. Apart from Antonio, only Leon from the original squad has not signed. Norman Campbell is out because of personal reasons, so 99 per cent of players have signed the contracts,” he pointed out.

JFF President Michael Ricketts said although Bailey and his handlers have been slow in signing on the dotted line, he anticipates no issues and believes the matter will be settled shortly.

“There is a little bit of a tardiness (from) Leon and his management. They have not yet signed the contract but we would have had verbal commitment from them that he will do so in short order,” Ricketts assured.

WAITING ON DOCUMENTATION

The JFF boss added that West Ham star, Mickel Antonio, has not signed because he is still processing his documentation.

“Mickel Antonio’s agent said he has not gone through the document as yet in its entirety and they will do so in short order, as soon as they have gone through and are comfortable with the document. So we are expectant and hoping that these contracts will be finalised soon, and based on the indication from coach Whitmore, these players will be a part of the set-up as soon as the contracts are signed,” added Ricketts.

Whitmore stated that the three friendly games and the Gold Cup tournament will be used to fine-tune preparation for the World Cup qualifiers, which begin in September.

“The squad we named for the three games is to fine-tune our preparation for the Gold Cup and the World Cup qualifiers. This is an important year for the Reggae Boyz as far as international competitions are concerned.

“We will be busy during the second half of this year. The Concacaf Gold Cup is in July and the World Cup qualifiers kick off in September, and these matches against Japan and Serbia are games to fine-tune our preparation,” Whitmore stated. “We anticipate a very competitive roster and each player, both overseas and local based, must use every opportunity to perform and press their case for selection.

“We need each player to challenge himself and take responsibility and be accountable on and off the pitch for performance and conduct,” he continued. “We expect good performances but it makes no sense we give a good account in these practice games and in the Gold Cup and do not make it to Qatar 2022. So all that we are doing now, our main focus is getting to Qatar 2022. We can achieve it and I am confident that with a collective and unified approach we will.”

The 30-man Squad reads: Andre Blake, Dennis Taylor, Jaedin White, Dillon Barnes, Liam Moore, Adrian Marriappa, Kacey Palmer, Kemar Lawrence, Amari Bell, Wesley Harding, Oneil Fisher, Alvas Powell, Devon Williams, Kevon Lambert, Ravel Morrison, Blair Turgott, Junior Flemming, Damion Lowe Luca Levee, Tyreek Magee, Bobby Reid, Lamar Walker, Shamar Nicholson, Cory Burke, Javon East, Andre Grey, Jashuan Anglin, Ethan Pinnock, Michael Hector and Kevaughn Issacs.

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com