Alf has the toughest ‘friendly’

When Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago play a friendly football match in Kingston tonight there will be a strong Caymanian influence.

That’s because the referee will be Alfredo, the much respected official who is President of the Cayman Islands Referee Association.

Whittaker is a former keeper of the Cayman Islands national team. He left yesterday for the match at the National Stadium where he will be partnered by two Jamaican FIFA assistant referees.

His last assignment off the island was in February in a World Cup 2010 qualifying game in Turks and Caicos when they faced St Lucia. Cayman is building up quite a reputation for top quality officials as Whittaker was assisted by Livingston Bailey and fourth official Kelvin Holder also FIFA officials from the Cayman Islands and Paul Messam FIFA Assistant from the Bahamas.

His return to Jamaica marks his third assignment to the island officiating in international friendlies since the return of football icon and President of Jamaica Football Federation Captain Horace Burrell.

Burrell who took over as head of the JFF last November is unquestionably the most successful football administrator to have held that post in its history guiding the national team to its first World Cup in 1998 and setting the record of Jamaica becoming the first English-speaking Caribbean country to reach that level in football history.

Whittaker, one of the most outstanding referees in the region, has been doing a lot of work to improve the profession on the island. His efficiency in the past has earned him the credibility of being requested to officiate in this game.

‘I am delighted FIFA appointed me to return to Jamaica to officiate in another game there,’ he said. ‘The hospitality received from the JFF and in extension the Jamaica Referees Association has been remarkable. It has always been enjoyable whenever I visit Jamaica. It is like a home away from home.

‘I anticipate a tough game and a great crowd; as usual I will take control of my game from the start to ensure fair play and cooperate with my assistants.’

Jeffrey Webb, President of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said: ‘I was really impressed when I heard that Alfredo was appointed by FIFA to do the top international friendly at this time in the region.

‘He has achieved this recognition through immense commitment, dedication and true professionalism to refereeing. The level of success he is enjoying is no surprise to me he has earned it. I wish him all the best.’

Whittaker should have a busy night. Even though this is a ‘friendly’ there is no such thing between these sides who along with Haiti are the best teams in the Caribbean.

Jamaica seem to be trying to replicate the set up from a decade ago when they reached the 1998 World Cup finals in France.

Burrell has returned as president of the JFF and charismatic Brazilian coach Rene Simoes is in charge again.

Now Deon Burton, whose goals were instrumental in Jamaica’s historic qualification for the France, has been included among 12 overseas-based players announced by technical director Simoes.

Burton, 31, who plays for Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship, will be donning the Jamaican colours for the first time since the Boyz were thrashed 6-0 by England at Old Trafford two years ago.

He is joined by Marlon King (Wigan), Donovan Ricketts (Bradford City), Demar Phillips (Stoke City), Luton Shelton (Sheffield United), Omar Daley (Bradford City), Ian Goodison (Tranmere Rovers), Demar Stewart (Royal White Star, Belgium), Jamal Campbell-Ruce (Barnsley), Oneil Thompson (Nottoden, Norway), Khari Stephenson (AIK Stockholm, Sweden), and Tyrone Marshall (Toronto FC). Captain Ricardo Gardner is injured.

This match is being used by both teams as part of their preparations for the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign. The encounter will be their first meeting in three years, with Jamaica coming away 2-1 winners in a Digicel Cup encounter in February 2005. Cayman will meet the Trinis if they beat Bermuda this weekend.

The Trinis also have more of their overseas-based pros who have not played for the country since October 2006. Their quest for glory will revolve around English-based talisman Kenwyne Jones of Sunderland and Stern John of Southampton.

Jamaica will also be without veteran defender Ian ‘Pepe’ Goodison, while Ricardo Fuller and Jermaine Johnson were not considered this time around.

Simoes said Fuller was not considered because he already saw him and wanted to have a look at Burton and Shelton and he will have a look at Johnson later.
Thirteen local-based players, including 19-year-old striker, James Thomas of Portmore United, were also selected.

The other local players are: keepers: Allien Whittaker (JDF), Duwayne Kerr (Portmore United); defenders: Christopher Harvey (Harbour View), Christopher Jackson (Tivoli Gardens), Obrian Woodbine (Reno), Adrian Reid (Portmore United); midfielders: Wolry Wolfe, Rudolph Austin, Ricardo Cousins (Portmore United), Keniel Moodie (Seba), Hugh Howell (Waterhouse); forwards: Kaemmar Daley (Meadhaven).