Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Jureidini, Whittaker expect good showing at Copa America

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:10 AMOrane Buchanan/Staff Reporter
Jureidini
Jureidini
Whittaker
Whittaker
Jamaica’s Michael Hector (left) shields the ball from Uruguay’s Gaston Ramirez during the second half of a Copa America  match in Santa Clara, California on  Monday, June 13, 2016. Uruguay won 3-0.
Jamaica’s Michael Hector (left) shields the ball from Uruguay’s Gaston Ramirez during the second half of a Copa America match in Santa Clara, California on Monday, June 13, 2016. Uruguay won 3-0.
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NEXT Saturday the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Reggae Boyz will have their first match in the 2024 Copa America tournament. Drawn in Group B, the Reggae Boyz will lock horns with Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela. According to veteran football administrator and analyst Clyde Jureidini and former national goalkeeper Allien Whittaker, the squad announced is very balanced.

“I think it’s well balanced, it’s mostly comprised of players that were here before, including a few players who have made an impact in the last couple of games,” Jureidini said.

The 55th-ranked Reggae Boyz, who enter the tournament on a three-game win streak, are the lowest rank team in the group with Mexico being the highest at 14th while the pair of Ecuador and Venezuela are listed at 31st and 54th respectively. Jureidini added that based on the talent coach Hallgrimsson has at his disposal expectations are very high.

“We have accumulated a lot of foreign-based stars and the level of expectation would be at our highest because this is clearly the most noteworthy set of players that has ever been picked for the national team,” he added.

Jureidini is backing the attacking force of Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz to create a lot of problems for the other teams in the tournament as it combines a good mixture of youth and experience.

“The X factor in the last six to eight months has been, without doubt, Demarai Gray. He has been the star and has performed consistently well, Shamar Nicholson has been in good form of late and we’ve seen couple high-point games from young Renaldo Cephas. Kaheim Dixon is knocking on the door with a lot of enthusiasm while senior player Michail Antonio has shown that he can be lethal. So, our attacking force is potent and we expect that is where the damage could be done,” Jureidini explained.

Former national goalkeeper Whittaker shared that this squad could be the first Reggae Boyz squad to qualify for the knockout round of the Copa America tournament despite the distractions around the team.

“I think the squad is balanced and this is our best chance of advancing from our group. In addition, with all the distractions around the team I also believe this might cause the team to pull together which could result in a better all-round effort,” he stated.

Whittaker said Jamaica’s hopes could rest on the shoulders of two exciting players.

“I think it would be between Gray and Kaheim Dixon. You’re seeing two players with different levels of experience but both have the same level of hunger,” Whittaker said.

orane.buchanan@gleanerjm.com