Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake expressed devastation after his team’s recent elimination from the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals.
And with the wound still raw and sore, the outstanding Philadelphia Union goalkeeper sent a direct message to Jamaica’s football authorities.
“The next campaign starts now.”
Blake says he believes that if Jamaica seriously wants to compete at a higher level for the 2026 FIFA World Cup Finals cycle, then the authorities need to keep the nucleus of this team and get it together to help the gelling process as often as possible. The team captain also says he feels good and young at heart and wants to play at the international level for “at least another ten years.”
“I hope everybody can realize that we have a chance now to start preparing for the next one [World Cup cycle], and we need to have a group of guys that stay together for the next five years, and then we will definitely have a better campaign,” Blake offered.
Blake reflects on the final round
He reflected on the fact that most of the seven other teams in the CONCACAF Final Round have been together for many years, which ultimately made a difference.
“I’m always willing to play, we still have a chance to start to build again, and I’m going to say one thing, and it’s very important. We are playing against teams that have been building for five, six years, and we are very new.
“Things like these happen. You don’t just build a team in one week or in one month, or even in one year. You need time, a lot of time, and for us now, if we want to have a chance for the next campaign, it starts now, and we need to play together, we need to spend time together, and we need to suffer together. You have to lose before you start to win.”
The Reggae Boyz have managed a solitary win, and four draws from eleven games in the eight-nation final round to be seventh on seven points.
That’s some way off the 25 accumulated by leaders Canada, followed by US and Mexico on 21, with Panama on 17, Costa Rica on 16, and El Salvador on nine. Honduras is last with three points.
All nations have three games remaining, which they will play during the last week of March.
The top three teams earn a direct berth to Qatar, the venue of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals, while the team that finishes in fourth place earns an inter-continental playoff for another shot at Qatar.
But since Jamaica’s historic qualification to the 1998 World Cup Finals in France, the governing body, the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), has not been able to get remotely close to another Finals berth. And that has been the case, despite the availability of more professional players at the country’s disposal.
Reggae Boyz will get ready for next campaign
The Boyz appeared refreshed and confident in their first-half display against Costa Rica but somehow lost it badly in the second half, suffering a penalty that Blake saved before shortly conceding to go down 1-0.
“It was a good performance, but that’s just football,” reflected Blake, who had made two penalty saves in as many games.
He added: “It’s the team that gets the ball in the back of the net the most, wins. Unfortunately, tonight we did not score. They did.”
The outstanding goalkeeper says that every time he crosses that white line, he wants to win, and he loses sleep whenever that doesn’t happen.
Still, that’s football, and football is “about moments, and all you can do is try your best. Sometimes it is going to be good enough, and sometimes it won’t be good enough, but we win as a team, and we lose as a team. These are the moments that really define you, so we have to just stick together, keep fighting, learn from these moments, and hopefully, you can get it right, eventually.”