Reggae Boyz on an upward spiral

TOGETHER AS ONE: The Reggae Boyz

JAMAICA HAVE finished no.48 in FIFA’s last world rankings for 2019 (December 19), a climb of six places from the end of last year 

Head coach Theodore Whitmore’s side, who breezed through their CONCACAF Nations Group C of League B by winning all but one game, a home draw against Guyana, also earned a berth in the Gold Cup.

The Boyz boast an exceptionally impressive recent record in the lucrative CONCACAF Gold Cup, having reached the semi-finals last time following back-to-back appearances as shock finalists.

Whitmore has constantly shuffled his pack throughout the year, at times forces because of unrest by players, and is currently eyeing up strengthening his troops ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers that kick-off in August.

The Boyz need only finish ranked as one of the top six CONCACAF sides as of the end of June to secure an automatic spot in the region’s hexagonal 2022 Qatar qualifiers, and are unquestionably the Caribbean’s top team.

However, they trail Mexico (world ranked no.11), the United States (no.22) and Costa Rica (no.46) in the CONCACAF region. With Honduras (no.62), El Salvador (no.69) and Canada (no.73) all hot on their heels.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts is eager for the Boyz to book their place in the last six for the World Cup qualifiers. He has revealed that the JFF are planning for some friendlies so that the Boyz can potentially pick up some additional FIFA ranking points. 

The leading three teams from the hexagonal qualifiers will earn automatic berths to the World Cup finals, with the fourth-placed side given another chance to reach Qatar by tackling a high stakes two-way inter-continental play-off against a South American nation from the CONMEBOL region.

The Boyz polished off the year with their insipid 1-1 stalemate against Guyana in Montego Bay. Yet they registered a highly respectable 2019 record of eight victories with a trio of draws and just three defeats. Their shining star in front of goal in 2019 was hot-shot striker Shamar Nicholson, who ended the year as Jamaica’s top scorer with seven strikes.

The next world rankings will be published on 20 February 2020, when Jamaica are hoping to have leapfrogged Costa Rica and confirmed two winnable friendly matches.

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