Chance for players to knock on door of first-team, says Hall

New Reggae Boyz Head Coach Paul Hall is hoping that fringe players given the chance to play against Peru today will try their best to stake a claim for selection in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers slated for next week.

Jamaica face Peru in an international friendly in Lima at 8:00 pm with a largely locally-based group of players sprinkled with some of the more senior players who are on break from their club leagues.

Today’s game does not fall within the FIFA Window and therefore European professionals and those currently engaged in their leagues are not eligible to participate. The game will be Hall’s only test ahead of the qualifier against Mexico on January 27 inside the National Stadium in Kingston. Three days later Jamaica play away to Panama in Panama City, before returning home to entertain Costa Rica at the National Stadium on February 2.

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“We want players to show that they should be in the squad next week for the World Cup qualifier…it’s an opportunity for those players to show me, my team and Jamaica who should be in the group of players and see if we can win games against Mexico, Panama and Costa Rica.

“This is really a good opportunity for those players to knock on the door and say ‘I am better than him’, and that is why the final squad hasn’t been picked because I am looking for something to come from this game to see who really wants it,” said Hall from Lima on Wednesday.

Hall, who joined the Reggae Boyz set-up as an assistant coach for last summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, was elevated to the post of head coach following the sacking of his 1998 World Cup Theodore Whitmore towards the backend of last year.

The 1998 two-goal World Cup hero was recommended for the sack by the Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee headed by Rudolph Speid. It claimed it had lost confidence in Whitmore’s leadership of the Reggae Boyz are who currently sitting in sixth place in the eight-nation final round CONCACAF World Cup qualification campaign.

Canada lead the tight race with 16 points, one ahead of the USA on 15, followed by Mexico and Panama on 14. Costa Rica are fifth with nine points, followed by Jamaica on seven, El Salvador on six and Honduras at the back with a paltry three points.

The group now in Peru had a one-week training camp at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence and Hall is desperate to see how the players execute on the pitch what was practised and discussed.

“We can expect the team to exhibit resilience because we are going to be away from home, and we are going to need people to step up in a foreign environment.

“The new players have taken to the way we play…again there was an openness to receive the information. I have kind of encouraged a learning environment, so you can tell that learning has taken place within the training sessions, plus we want the players to be able to think for themselves and to really take the sessions to a different level,” explained Hall.

He added: “Training has been quite intense, and we want the players to play more, relax more, to pass the ball more and express themselves a little bit more as well. So, while they have taken to the way we play, we will see how much they have [grasped] when the game comes.”

Hall also hinted that he saw enough at the training camp to believe it was a success.

“Things have been good since I arrived ad I have the liberty to train some good players and have the opportunity to get to know some of the Jamaica-based players, and obviously some of the players I already know.

“But they have all shown an extreme willingness to listen and to learn and apply what we are trying to play, and it has been very good. The players have shown a good attitude and the application has been very good again, si it has been an enjoyable week,” he noted.

The 22nd-ranked Peru are currently fifth in the difficult South American World Cup qualifying campaign and they played to a 1-1 result with Panama a few days ago and Hall knows enough about them to realise that his charges will be in for a stern test.

“I have watched a few of Peru’s games and they are a tough opponent and there is no doubt about that. They move the ball well and they pressure the ball well.

“They played Panama recently and they played quite well, and so they are a very good team, and they are at home. When they attack, they do so quickly, they can counter-attack effectively, and they can defend astutely as well, so we have to be about our game to make sure we can break them down and to focus on ourselves as well,” Hall said.

Prior to departing Jamaica for Peru on Monday, two players and an official were tested positive for Covid-19 and were withdrawn. ON Tuesday Waterhouse left-back Ricardo Thomas was flown in to join the group. None of the positive cases was identified.

The Jamaican squad is expected to come from Jeadine White, Demar Rose, Amal Knight, Dwayne Miller, Oquassa Chong, Richard King, Jamoi Topey, Damion Lowe, Javain Brown, Je-Vaughn Watson, Kemar Lawrence, Tevin Shaw, Ramone Howell, Devon Williams, Devonte Campbell, Lamar Walker, Jourdain Fletcher, Peter Vassell, Dwayne Atkinson, Deshane Beckford, Maliek Howell, Alex Marshall, Ricardo Thomas.


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