Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore is unconvinced that his charges are ready for a title run at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the US in under a month’s time.
And the former Reggae Boy star player is not being flippant with his views, but more realistic because of the evidence staring him in the face based on happenings at the last few FIFA Windows.
Whitmore and members of the local delegation returned to Jamaica on Monday after a two-game series in Japan.
The Boyz drew the first against Serbia, before being humiliated by the Japan Olympic team 4-0.
But as is now the norm, it was anything but smooth sailing for Whitmore to properly plan and execute in preparation for the Gold Cup and then the CONCACAF FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in September.
The Boyz were originally slated for three games, including an opener against Japan senior team, but on the eve of departure to the far East, a number of players, including senior members, withdrew for one reason or another.
And to make matters worse, the England-based players were denied boarding rights to Japan from their connection in Amsterdam due to inadequate COVID-19 test clearance certificates, forcing the Japan Football Association to cancel the game against Japan because the visitors could not field a full team.
So Whitmore’s 30-man squad eventually ended up at 19, including three goalkeepers. Far from what he had envisaged when he crafted his plan of action.
Then came news that a number of the players in Japan had not yet received their Jamaican Passports, a necessary document for eligibility for participation in any organised competition.
“Firstly, we had set out to play three games and we were looking at the trip to Japan as a pre-Gold Cup camp. As you know, the original squad we selected to come to Japan was a 30-man strong one, and this would have been the group that we wanted to play in the Gold Cup.
“When we take into consideration the time spent together, going into the Gold Cup we are going to miss a lot in terms of the chemistry, the physical conditioning of the team and team bonding and building going into the Gold Cup,” Whitmore told the Jamaican media.
He added, “We have lost some time on this tour heading into the Gold Cup, and then again, when you look at it the Gold Cup is just a few weeks away, and at this stage we have a number of players out injured and we don’t know what condition we are going to get them in,” he said.
“It’s a risk to select this Gold Cup squad not knowing the conditions of the players,” insisted Whitmore.
This past Monday was the deadline for submission of the provisional list of 60 players to CONCACAF, but the coach was unclear of the eligibility of some foreign-born players.
“That is a concern (players without passport), but we have to take some licks for that. Personally, I don’t believe any player should represent the country and don’t have Jamaican citizenship, or don’t have a Jamaican passport. And if my memory serves me well, I think it’s a long-standing policy of the federation,” said Whitmore.
Some of the English-born players who participated on the Japan tour were not holders of Jamaican passports, though their applications were said to be advanced in many of the cases.
“Right now, all we have to do is hope and keep our fingers crossed and see where we go from here,” said the coach.