FOOTBALL: Reggae Boyz arrive in Kansas City ahead of crucial US matchup
KANSAS CITY, Missouri:
Audley Boyd – Assistant Editor – Sports
Travelling from far and wide, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz arrived here in different batches yesterday, teaming up for Friday night’s CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying senior men’s football match against the United States.
With most journeying for practically the entire day, all members of the 23-man squad assembled at the Marriott hotel in Overland Park yesterday, where they were granted an evening of rest.
Five members of the squad, along with coaching and management staff, started gathering at the Norman Manley International Airport from close to 4 a.m. yesterday, and made connections through Miami and Chicago before touching down at their Kansas City base about 7 p.m. Yesterday.
Others playing professionally in Europe and the United States’ Major League Soccer arrived just about the same time or later.
The Jamaicans, whose squad is missing five players from the previous match against Costa Rica, are due to host their first training session this morning.
Strikers Marlon King, Luton Shelton and Jermaine Beckford, along with midfielders Garath McLeary and Chris Humphrey, are included in the lineup this time.
Beckford’s wife is expecting, there is a death in Humphrey’s family and McLeary is injured.
Also, number one custodian Donovan Ricketts is unavailable due to a broken arm, while his deputy, Dwayne Miller, remains injured.
Local custodians Richard McCallum, who kept the last game, and Gariece McPherson, have been joined by Europe-based Duwayne Kerr.
Influential left-sided defender/midfielder Demar Phillips returns after a long absence through injury, while Rodolph Austin and Alvas Powell are back in the team after serving a one-match suspension for a red card (two yellow).
– Rodolph Austin
Head coach Winfried Schafer reiterated that despite their lowly position, the Reggae Boyz remain hopeful.
“We’ve two matches now … it’s not finished, we’ve a small chance,” he said.
Jamaica sits at the bottom of the CONCACAF Hexagonal with four points, while Mexico and Panama are tied on eight, with Honduras third on 11, Costa Rica second on 15 and the United States leading with 16.
All the teams have played eight of their 10 matches.
Both the United States and Costa Rica have secured qualification, with the top three automatically advancing the next year’s World Cup Finals in Brazil, and the fourth place team set for a playoff against Oceania champions New Zealand.
Jamaica’s only chance rests in securing the playoff spot, meaning they must beat the United States and also win their final match, at home against Honduras on October 15.
Also, Honduras and Panama must not finish with more than 10 points, the maximum reachable target for the Reggae Boyz.
“It’s not easy against the United States,” Schafer said of Friday’s encounter.
“Klinsmann (US coach Jurgen) send many young players to Europe and they have a very good team now, they’re in the lead.”
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