Tue | Oct 27, 2020

Boyz brace for tough summer schedule

Published:Wednesday | September 30, 2020 | 12:14 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Whitmore
Whitmore
Jamaica’s Peter Vassell (centre) attempts to get between Honduran players Hector Castellanos (left) and Maynor Figueroa, during their Concacaf Gold Cup match held at the National Stadium on June 18, 2019. Jamaica won 3-2.
Jamaica’s Peter Vassell (centre) attempts to get between Honduran players Hector Castellanos (left) and Maynor Figueroa, during their Concacaf Gold Cup match held at the National Stadium on June 18, 2019. Jamaica won 3-2.
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A packed summer awaits national senior men’s head coach Theodore Whitmore and the Reggae Boyz in 2021.

As Jamaica prepares for the final round of World Cup qualifying, they also, on Monday, learnt their opponents for next year’s Gold Cup tournament, during the draw ceremony which was held in Miami, Florida.

The Reggae Boyz are slated to open their World Cup final-round qualifying campaign in June with four games in that month, three of which will be on the road to regional heavyweights Mexico, the United States and Costa Rica.

Subsequently, the Gold Cup commences on July 10 and will come to an end on August 1, with the Boyz aiming for another deep run in the tournament.

The final-round World Cup qualifiers had to be rescheduled because of the coronavirus pandemic, while the Gold Cup dates were adjusted to accommodate the rescheduled preliminary-round qualifiers, which will be played from July 2 to 6, 2021.

When asked about the possibility of using different squads to compete on both fronts, Whitmore, during Monday’s post-draw press conference, said that he and his coaching team would determine the best solution.

“It’s something that myself and the technical staff have been looking over the past couple of weeks. We will make a decision on how we approach both tournaments,” Whitmore said.

Because of the upheaval caused to the football calendar, Jamaica face the possibility of playing a maximum of 10 games in the space of seven weeks, should they make another deep run in the Gold Cup.

THE BEST TEAM

Whitmore said that while he acknowledges how demanding the summer schedule will be, he is committed to assembling the best team to compete in all areas.

“We know come next summer it is going to be difficult but it’s how we acquit ourselves,” he said. “We are trying to put together the best [team] we can to go forward, that we can be successful.”

Meanwhile, Jamaica’s 2021 Gold Cup journey will begin in Group C, where they have been drawn with Costa Rica, Suriname and a preliminary- round qualifier. Based on the preliminary-round draw on Monday, that qualifier could be one of Guatemala, Guyana, Guadeloupe or The Bahamas.

Jamaica have made the semi-finals of the last three tournaments, including back-to-back finals in 2015 and 2017. Although having guided the team to the final four of the last two tournaments, Whitmore said that it does not mean it installs them as favourites in the group.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com