Let’s pray! – Boyz need Divine intervention as curse sweeps squad Coach bemoans poor preparation, ‘injury epidemic’

According to Montesso, JFF president Captain Horace Burrell did everything possible to get the players released from the MLS, but the clubs didn’t agree. He added: “I know that the president (Sunil Gulati) of the US Soccer Federation spoke with the MLS trying to get Jamaican players released for May 20, but they never agreed.”

IT appears that the gods are always conspiring against the Reggae Boyz. Or are they?

During a period which could go a far way in determining their fate, the Boyz face a flurry of three crucial World Cup Qualifiers within eight days starting next Tuesday here at the National Stadium against Mexico, then three days later at the same venue against the region’s other top-ranked team, the USA, before completing the series on June 11 away to Honduras.

But when compared with their next two rivals — Mexico and the USA — the Reggae Boyz’s preparation is extremely weak, at best.

New technical director of the Jamaica Football Federation programme Alfredo Montesso told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he was very disappointed with the team’s preparation.

“It is not ideal preparation, but we have to work with what we have and try to do the best,” he said at the end of yesterday’s training session with less than a dozen players at the JFF Technical Centre at the University of the West Indies, Mona.

“Yes, we are disappointed, for a number of reasons,” he reiterated.

“We have to understand that the US, they control the MLS, so they could withdraw their players (from the league) whenever they wanted, but we have to face our reality…

“We are not the US where we can withdraw our players as we don’t have the resources to keep the players in Jamaica, so we had hoped to have our players, even those from Reading FC, who are already on vacation, but the club didn’t release them because they (Reading FC) got relegated and the new manager is meeting wih the players, as they started setting up themselves for next season with some players seeking new contracts and some discussing if they are going to remain at the club next season, so it was really disappointing for us because of the expectation, and the fact that we had programmed the Tottenham game and the camp in The Bahamas with all our professional players, because we expected to have them there,” Montesso explained.

True, the Boyz played out a 0-0 result against top-flight English Premiership outfit Tottenham Hotspur last Thursday evening in The Bahamas, but that team comprised mainly locally based players, most of whom are not expected to form the core of the teams to contest for three points against the CONCACAF rivals during that crucial spell.

In fact, up to yesterday, only two of the overseas-based players were in the island — Jermaine Johnson, who is suspended for the game against Mexico, and Rodolph Austin, who is nursing a groin strain. He is expected back in training on Friday.

The others are expected in by the latest Thursday, giving the technical staff and themselves no more than four days to prepare for Mexico.

Jermaine Beckford, Marvin Elliott, Dwayne Miller and late replacement Je-Vaughn Watson are expected in the island today, while captain Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson, Theo Robinson, Garath McCleary and Adrian Mariappa are due in Thursday. Omar Daley is also a late addition to the team, but Reading FC captain Jobi McAnuff will not make the trip, having asked to be released, as he stays back to tend to his wife who is hospitalised after giving birth to their first born.

But as misery piles on Jamaica, Mexico kicked off their training camp at their High Performance Centre on May 23, and have already landed in Houston, Texas where they are scheduled to face Nigeria — a participant in the Confederations Cup in Brazil from the middle of next month — on Friday.

American coach Jurgen Klinsmann named a 29-man roster for their camp, which kicked off on Sunday ahead of friendly games against Belgium in Cleveland today, and against Germany on Sunday.

According to Montesso, JFF president Captain Horace Burrell did everything possible to get the players released from the MLS, but the clubs didn’t agree.

He added: “I know that the president (Sunil Gulati) of the US Soccer Federation spoke with the MLS trying to get Jamaican players released for May 20, but they never agreed.”

Montesso now believes that almost 50 per cent of the team which played against Mexico at the Azteca Stadium on February 6 when the teams ended 0-0, will now be out of this game. “It’s really a very big blow for our team, but we have to face the reality and try to do our best, but I have a lot of confidence in the group.”

The delayed arrival of the overseas pros aside, injuries have depleted the squad greatly, with Nyron Nosworthy, Jermaine Taylor, Demar Phillips ruled out of the three games.

“Why we feel the absence of those players is because we were building a chemistry among the team and it will be broken now,” he noted.

And even at this very late stage, Montesso revealed that the technical staff is trying to secure the services of yet another UK-based player, Leicester City’s 29-year-old central defender Westley ‘Wes’ Morgan.

“We have one guy whom we invited, Wes Morgan, the captain of Leicester City. He has 52 appearances this season and we hope he can bring some more experience to the defensive line, but I’m not sure his paperwork will be finalised in time for the game (June 4).

“We are trying really hard, but we have to think that if the paperwork doesn’t come through in time, then we have to replace him as well,” concluded Montesso.

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