Jamaica need miracle

Jamaica play two World Cup qualifiers in the next week which they must win to have any chance of qualifying for the finals in Brazil next year. 

The Reggae Boyz face Panama away on Friday and are at home to Costa Rica on Tuesday. 

Jamaica are rock bottom with only two points in their group and must win all four remaining games to snatch the fourth-place playoff spot that would pit them against the champions of Oceania. Jamaica have scored only twice and conceded eight in six matches. 

The USA lead the table with 13 points, followed by Costa Rica on 11, Mexico 8, Honduras 7 and Panama 6. 

Head coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore officially resigned but was effectively sacked a couple of months ago because of poor results, and Winfried Schafer was drafted in. 

But to reach the World Cup finals in Rio de Janeiro is a tall order for the German who has made wholesale changes which smack of desperation.  

Twelve players from the English pro leagues have been called up, including a recall for bad boy striker Marlon King.  

King, 33, was coaxed out of international retirement by Schafer even though the much traveled forward resigned from the international scene out of frustration last November after he was overlooked by Whitmore. 

King had just served a two-match ban following an alleged breach of curfew rules during a friendly match in Panama City. He has also served two prison sentences in the U.K., one for receiving stolen goods and the other for attacking a young woman who spurned his sexual advances.  

Two months ago, King was arrested in connection to a hit-and-run incident which left a man injured. He was released by his club Birmingham City soon after and is now without a club.  

Although it looks like an impossible situation for the Reggae Boyz, local coach Stephen Petgrave, who has coached Roma United and Prospect, feels they can still qualify like they did for the 1998 World Cup finals in France.  

“The chemistry Jamaica are looking for is not there yet. They have to move players around to get the right balance,” Jamaican Petgrave said.  

“But I still believe they can do it. King is a good player. Regardless of what he has done off the pitch, I love him.  

“I hope Schafer uses all the Brits at one time and doesn’t leave them on the bench.” 

Jamaica squad: Goalkeepers – Donovan Ricketts, Dwayne Miller, Gariece McPherson; Defenders – Wes Morgan, Lloyd Doyley, Daniel Gordon, Alvas Powell, Shaun Cummings, Jermaine Taylor, O’Brian Woodbine, Adrian Mariappa, Adrian Reid, Kemar Lawrence; Midfielders – Rudolph Austin, Marvin Elliott, Jermaine Johnson, Joel McAnuff, Garath McCleary, Chris Humphrey, Wolry Wolfe; Forwards – Theo Robinson, Luton Shelton, Jermaine Beckford, Darren Mattocks, Ryan Johnson, Marlon King and Jermaine Anderson. 


Jamaicans are depending heavily on Marlon King.
Action Images


Stephen Petgrave