By Gregory Bryce
The 2022 Qatar World Cup is the main priority of the Reggae Boyz for the immediate future and the stakes have never been higher as the players seem silently confident of booking their flight to Qatar ahead of the final round of qualifiers. Recent results have also sent a wave of expectations throughout the team, which has registered seven wins in its last 10 games.
But while there seems to be a heightened excitement for the team with recent fixtures, Jamaica still seems to fall just short of the giants in the CONCACAF region which will prove to be our oppositions in the World Cup qualifiers.
And they have not been resting on their laurels either, with teams like the United States, Mexico and Canada seemingly improving by strides.
Players like Weston McKennie (Juventus), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig) and Sergino Dest (Barcelona) are just some of the few players who have carried the talent of the US team to another level.
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Jonathan David (Lille) and Mark-Anthony Kaye (LAFC) will be expected to lead the lines of Canada making for stern oppositions and Mexico remains perennial regional giants with the likes of Hirving Lozano (Napoli), Raul Jimenez (Wolves), Jesus Corona (Porto), and Hector Herrera (Atletico Madrid).
The Reggae Boyz has seen improvement over the years, with the acquisition of Leon Bailey and Bobby Reid in 2019 and Ravel Morrison and Daniel Johnson – who, by the way, scored a beauty of a debut goal against Saudi Arabia.
Yet, based on reports online, the Reggae Boyz could be bolstering their attack yet again in the upcoming future as West Ham’s striker, Michail Antonio, is allegedly looking into switching allegiance from England to Jamaica in a bid to play at the 2022 World Cup.
Should this happen, it could be quite a coup for the Reggae Boyz and presents us a new attacking option as the pacey Antonio is a proven goal scorer with a lot of experience at the highest levels.
Provided all goes well, Theodore Whitmore will have his work cut out for him as he will have among his attacking selection the likes of Michail Antonio, Bobby Reid, Leon Bailey, Shamar Nicholson and Dever Orgill to try and find the right balance.
Not to mention that Javon East, Chavany Willis, Junior Flemmings, Colorado Murray, Norman Campbell and Kemar Beckford have proven in the past that they are ready to work to earn their spot in Whitmore’s setup going forward.
Again, it should be noted that this is mostly speculation at this point, and no statement has been made by the JFF or Antonio about the player taking the steps to make the transition to represent the black, gold and green.
But a player who has made that step is Arsenal’s youth product – and yet another attacking option for Whitmore to consider – Kido Taylor-Hart. According the reports from Simon Preston, Taylor-Hart has started the process to apply for a Jamaican passport.
Should this means Taylor-Hart has chosen to play for Jamaica, the tall and pacey winger who has a penchant of taking on players before darting towards goal could be yet another attacking option for Whitmore to choose from.
And another player, and this time not an attacker, who could be a target for the Reggae Boyz as they prepare for the World Cup qualifiers is Manchester United’s youth player Ethan Laird who is now out on loan with MK Dons.
The 19-year-old right back, despite his immense talent, is expected to find it hard to break into an England squad that is oversaturated with talented right backs. He will be competing with Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Reece James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kieran Trippier, James Justin, Max Aarons, Luke Ayling, and the list of England possible right-backs goes on.
So it is likely that barring a massive breakthrough into senior top-flight football, Laird will find his chances to play for England very limited, and Jamaica would be the more ideal option.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance sports journalist.
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