Sat | Jun 25, 2022

Russian Cup success perfect tonic for Nicholson

Published:Saturday | June 4, 2022 | 12:09 AM

Football analyst Andrew Price says that national striker Shamar Nicholson’s short-term decision to get settled with Russian FC Spartak Moscow has put him in the best position to make a positive return to the Reggae Boyz in their Nations League...

Football analyst Andrew Price says that national striker Shamar Nicholson’s short-term decision to get settled with Russian FC Spartak Moscow has put him in the best position to make a positive return to the Reggae Boyz in their Nations League campaign.

The Reggae Boyz will face Suriname tonight at 6 o’clock in Dr Ir Franklin Essed Stadion in Paramaribo, Suriname. While Nicholson will be unavailable for the Suriname game, he along with four other foreign-based players are in Jamaica and will be available for Tuesday’s return leg against Suriname and Mexico on June 14.

Nicholson reportedly turned down the offer to play in the January international window in the midst of the World Cup qualifiers, citing time to get settled with Spartak who he signed with that month. Additionally, he was not called for the March window for the final three games of the campaign. However, Nicholson is coming off a half-season where he helped Spartak win their fourth Russian Cup title last Sunday.

Price said that the sacrifice that Nicholson had to make at the time has made a difference in his recent performances.

“He had to make a professional decision. It’s always hard to adjust so he had to make that sacrifice to get acclimatised to his new team and surroundings. And I think it was a proper choice when you look at the trajectory of his career,” Price told The Gleaner. “Now he has settled in, it is good that Jamaica has him back and I hope that he continues scoring goals because that is what he is.”

Nicholson scored three goals in four games during their domestic cup campaign and finished the season with eight and two assists in all competitions in 15 games. Despite playing under travel restrictions and sanctions caused because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Price said that he is not surprised that Nicholson has forged ahead with his play. Additionally, he said that his title success is the perfect way for him to return to the Reggae Boyz fold.

“Especially during a transitional period where he went to (Russia) during the January window and he has adjusted very well. And what he has proven is that he has the capability and the tenacity to succeed wherever he goes,” Price said.

National senior interim men’s head coach Paul Hall said that he is looking forward to getting Nicholson back for their home games against Suriname and Mexico but it will be important for other players to fill the gap in Suriname.

“I look forward to seeing him in Jamaica because I believe that he is a very important part of what we do. (But) it is key that we focus on other players who can step in, and fill his shoes against Suriname,” Hall said.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com