Thu | Jul 29, 2021

Reggae Boyz set Saudi date

Published:Thursday | October 15, 2020 | 12:13 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Reggae Boyz defender Adrian Mariappa
Reggae Boyz defender Adrian Mariappa

After being forced to cancel a number of friendly matches due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz have secured two international games against five-time World Cup qualifiers Saudi Arabia in the Middle Eastern country on November 14 and 17.

General Secretary of the Jamaica Football Federation Dalton Wint, in welcoming the assignments, said the matches would officially kick-start their ‘Road to Qatar 2022’ World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It took a lot of hard work to finally be able to land these games. We should be playing the qualifiers now, but because of the pandemic, we aren’t able to. We had games lined up from June, and we had to stop discussions with a few of the teams in the June window,” said Wint, who pointed out that securing the matches took what he described as “skilful negotiations”.

“We had a game far advanced in discussions with the USA in October,and we had to abort that, but now, we are able to announce two games against the Saudi Arabians in Saudi (Arabia), which is our first set of international games since the pandemic, and so we want to see this as an official start to the Qatar campaign,” he further commented.

According to Wint, the technical staff will be putting together the best possible squad for the games, which he hopes will be the first of many, before the team’s first World Cup qualifying match next June.

“We wouldn’t have taken these games if it wasn’t a part of the technical team’s plan, so we will try to have the strongest squad we can assemble to participate in these two games. We had a setback, but we are moving full speed ahead to see how best we can prepare ourselves to get into action,” said Wint.

“We will definitely be looking to play a few friendlies in the available windows before June because we want to get players match-ready and sharp to bow into action in June,” he added.

Jamaica’s last match was on March 11 against Bermuda, which they won 2-0 at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.

In addition to the USA friendly, the Jamaicans were also forced to cancel games against the Catalonia national team as well as an unnamed Central American nation.

Wint shared that he was confident that the Saudis will maintain the required health and safety protocol standard for the games.

“We know that we aren’t able to fulfil the requirements, and so the discussions were around us going there, being able to quarantine, play these two games, and leave in a safe way as they are able to facilitate the sort of protocols that are required for international games,” Wint said.

Saudi Arabia are ranked 66 in the latest FIFA World Rankings while the Jamaicans sit at 48.