Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Flemmings deserves a spot - Former Reggae Boyz assistants call for striker’s inclusion for Saudi Arabia friendlies

Published:Sunday | October 18, 2020 | 12:17 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Jamaica forward Junior Flemmings (foreground) comes under a challenge from United States forward Jozy Altidore during a Concacaf Gold Cup semi-final football match in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 3, 2019.
Jamaica forward Junior Flemmings (foreground) comes under a challenge from United States forward Jozy Altidore during a Concacaf Gold Cup semi-final football match in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 3, 2019.
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Flemmings
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Former assistant coaches with the national senior football team, Bradley Stewart and Miguel Coley, believe that embattled Reggae Boyz striker Junior Flemmings is deserving of a place in the Reggae Boyz squad for their upcoming friendly matches away to Saudi Arabia next month, despite the recent controversy surrounding him.

The Reggae Boyz will play the hosts at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on November 14 and 17.

Flemmings, who was the top goalscorer in the United Soccer League (USL) with 14 goals this season, was handed a six-match ban by the league and fined an undisclosed amount for “foul and abusive language”, after the former Jamaica College (JC) player was accused of having directed a homophobic slur to San Diego Loyal player Collin Martin during a USL match, which resulted in the San Diego players forfeiting the game in protest.

Stewart told The Gleaner that Flemmings has proven to be among the best Jamaican strikers across the globe and, therefore, despite his recent ban from the USL, he should be selected for the national side for both friendly matches.

“I am thinking that with absence of any instructions or guidelines from the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), then the coach has a responsibility to select who he thinks is the best for the national team,” said Stewart. “I think Flemmings is deserving of a call-up to at least vie with the other players that the coach has in mind, and at the end of that make a determination as to who fits his system.”

CLASS ACT

Stewart, who assisted Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore during his first spell as head coach, which started in 2009, believes the 24-year-old striker has proven his class in the United States’ secondary league and should make the trip to Saudi Arabia on merit.

“I think I can put my head on the block for Flemmings based on what he has produced for his team in the USL because he was the top scorer in the league,” Stewart said.

It should be noted that JFF General Secretary Dalton Wint has stated that Flemmings remains in the federation’s plans despite his recent troubles, but underlined that his organisation would not interfere with the selection of the national team, adding that the decision to select or not select the striker rests squarely with the technical team.

Meanwhile, Coley, who coached Flemmings to five straight Manning Cup titles at JC, agrees that controversy or not, Flemmings has done enough this season to earn a call-up.

“He (Flemmings) should definitely be in the squad based on the fact that he would have played a full season in the USL and he would be in top shape to play a game like this,” said Coley. “Being a top goalscorer in the USL this season, he is definitely one of the persons you would have to consider for selection for these two matches.”

Flemmings, who is a former Tivoli Gardens striker, has scored one goal for the national senior team from his 10 appearances since making his debut in 2017.

Flemmings is not the only Reggae Boy who found himself in trouble this year, after MLS striker Darren Mattocks was slapped with felony charges in Pennsylvania. Mattocks is facing charges of making a false, fraudulent or incomplete insurance claim and theft by deception.

While both Coley and Stewart declined to comment on whether or not Mattocks should be invited to the next Reggae Boyz squad, the JFF through Wint has also backed the player, stating that he remains a part of their plans for the future.

Whitmore is expected to name his squad for the friendlies in the coming days.

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com