September 20, 2020

Burrell warns Reggae Boyz of wider Caribbean threat

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4-burrellFrom The Antigua Observer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Jan 29, CMC – Jamaica Football Federation president, Captain Horace Burrell, has warned of the threat coming from smaller Caribbean nations in the upcoming Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, and says the Reggae Boyz will have to be well prepared in order to prevail.

Speaking to CMC Sports in an exclusive interview in Miami, Florida recently, the veteran football administrator praised the development taking place in CONCACAF, and forecast this would result in an unpredictable but enthralling qualifying campaign.

“I think we’re going to have a couple of surprises because football is sometimes tricky, and I say this because it is very difficult to predict,” Burrell pointed out.

“What I find is that over the years I have grown to see some of the small nations play their best games against the more established nations within the Caribbean region. So I am not expecting a walk-over nor am I expecting it to be predictable, it’s going to have a lot of twists and turns.”
Burrell was one of several association heads in Miami recently to witness the draw for the first two rounds of qualifying. Round one, which kicks off March 23rd, will see the 14 lowest-ranked teams in the region compete in home-and-away ties, with the seven winners advancing to the second round to take on 13 teams.

Round two, starting June 8th, involves St Vincent & the Grenadines, Guyana, Antigua & Barbuda, St Lucia, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Canada, Guatemala, Aruba, El Salvador, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Suriname.
Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz will begin their involvement from round three, facing the ten winners from round two, along with Haiti, starting September 8th.

Burrell said though he was expecting an improved challenge from their traditional Caribbean rivals, he believed Jamaica had the talent and would be well prepared enough to reach the World Cup finals for the second time in their history.

“They (Jamaica) are the team that every country in the Caribbean wants to beat, and I understand that. That is how the sport of football goes,” he stressed.

“We are wary of the Caribbean teams, we know what they are capable of. Even in the recent Caribbean Cup, you would have realised that all of the teams plays their best game against Jamaica, so we’re not expecting anything different when it comes to the World Cup qualifying.

“We expect that [opposition] to be even more pronounced so we look forward to a great series.”
He continued: “The standard of football in Jamaica has improved significantly over the years and you just have to look at the number of players we now have in the leagues across the world. We have in excess of 40 processional players who have emerged since the last decade and a half so it tells you we are improving and doing well.”

Burrell, also a powerful CONCACAF vice-president, said the overall standard in the confederation had risen appreciably and said the Reggae Boyz would no longer easily dominate as they used to in the past.
“What has also happened is that all the teams in CONCACAF – more so the Central American teams – have stepped up a gear or two. So no longer can you go into El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica, and expect to blow them over, that’s not going to happen,” he contended.

“I believe that the standard of football within the confederation has improved, the standard of football in [Caribbean countries] has also improved. The good thing about it is that in Jamaica we have a wealth of talent [though] talent enough is not going to cut it.

“Based on preparation, I believe that Jamaica is capable just like any other team in the confederation to qualify for the World Cup in Russia but it’s not going to be easy. Barbados also has a chance, so does St Kitts and Antigua. It comes down to preparation.”

For more on this story go to: http://antiguaobserver.com/burrell-warns-reggae-boyz-of-wider-caribbean-threat/

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