Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Jamaica eyeing place in 2024 Copa America

Published:Saturday | January 28, 2023 | 1:02 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Reggae  Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.
Reggae Boyz head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson.

It may not be the direct invite to the 2024 Copa America that Jamaica originally targeted but Jamaica Football Federation general secretary Dennis Chung said that the opportunity to qualify for the 2024 Copa America tournament provides the right competitive mindset as part of the long-term goal to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

Chung’s comments come after yesterday’s announcement of a strategic partnership between Concacaf and CONMEBOL regarding men’s and women’s national team competitions. Part of the agreement awards hosting duties of the 2024 Copa America tournament to the United States, an expanded tournament consisting of 10 South American teams and six teams from Concacaf as guests. However, the six countries will be allowed to earn their place by way of the 2023-2024 Concacaf Nations League campaign. Chung said they will make qualification a top priority seeing the long-term benefits in their preparation for 2026.

“I think that Jamaica will stand an excellent chance (to qualify). Six places are up for grabs. Based on the discussions that we had with coach (Heimir Hallgrimsson), if we can get into the Copa America, then I think it will be great preparation for us for 2026. Hallgrimsson has already presented his match plan for 2023 and the next four years,” Chung told The Gleaner. “We will make every attempt to facilitate it because that would be a great opportunity for us to play against some very good teams.”

It will be the second time in eight years the United States will host the tournament. Ecuador were originally earmarked as hosts but declined the offer to stage the tournament. Jamaica participated in 2015 and 2016, the latter being a special tournament commemorating the 100th anniversary of CONMEBOL.

While the tournament was not mentioned specifically as part of the framework presented for international matches previously, Chung said he is encouraged by Hallgrimsson’s meticulous planning for fixtures in the international calendar and believes that qualifying secures the top-level competition structure they need.

“The best situation would have been a direct invite but this is great. We already are looking at the 2023 Nations League in terms of strategies around that and the Gold Cup coming up,” Chung said. “So having this added to it would be an excellent opportunity because we are looking for quality matches to play and this will provide us with an excellent opportunity to get some of those quality matches.”

The other commitments from the partnership include the creation of a new tournament with the best men’s clubs in South America and Concacaf as well as the inclusion of four South American teams for the inaugural 12-team Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup which will be staged next year. Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Paraguay, the top four nations at the 2022 Women’s Copa America, will participate in the tournament along with the top eight Concacaf nations.