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After watching the Reggae Boyz slump to their second consecutive home defeat just three games into the Russia 2018 World Cup campaign in the most pathetic and gutless manner, I am now fully convinced that the much-celebrated performance in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup – where they went all the way to the final – was nothing but a fluke.
I thought it was, even as it unfolded, but I never said it. I make no apologies saying now that the Gold Cup run was a flash in the pan display that could well turn out to be “a curse in disguise” and might well turn out to be the worst thing to happen to this team, and indeed, the entire football programme.
For the record, the word fluke as defined by the Concise Oxford Dictionary means ‘AN UNLIKELY CHANCE OCCURRENCE, ESPECIALLY A STROKE OF LUCK’.
There can be no clearer, more concise word used to contextualise the Gold Cup performances as they relate to the way the team is playing now, and the results it is getting.
I remember during that surprise Gold Cup run the debate erupted as to whether this team of 2015 is a better team than the 1998 World Cup Qualifying team, with the core argument emerging from the euphoria being that there are more players in this current team playing a higher level of football, including in the English Premier League, with the vast majority of them being overseas-based professionals.
I remember responding then that the 1998 group was far better as a functional team, with more individual match winners and more on-field leaders and that the 1998 team was more consistent over a longer period when compared to the current “collection of players”.
Regardless of what happens from here, any person who makes that comparison again should be committed forthwith to a mental institution.
Yet another dispute over contracts and payment on the eve of the Panama game obviously never helped the cause, but more important, it points to the headspace of the individuals in this team and again brings into focus the questionable commitment of this group.
To be soundly outplayed and beaten and tactically outfoxed in front of the home fans in and of itself is bad. But even more, the cardinal sin was to be outhustled and outmuscled by a Panama team playing with more heart, hunger, and tenacity is unforgivable.
The Jamaican players generally looked disgracefully lethargic and uninterested in representing the country. I was indeed surprised that there wasn’t more booing of the team at the stadium on Friday night. Not only was the underperformance deserving of boos, I think it was a lost opportunity to send a clear message to this group that Jamaica deserves better than they are giving.
Issues of tactical manoeuvring and team selection aside, the general LACK OF EFFORT on the part of the majority of the players is a clear sign that this team is going nowhere – and fast.
Inevitably, the question must be asked again in a very serious way, are we pursuing the right philosophy in scampering off to England to coax more and more second-rate foreign-born players who know just as much about Jamaica as we know about their commitment to the Jamaican cause?
Is the right BALANCE being struck between the pursuance of these foreign-born players and the development and systematic incorporation of more Jamaica-born players with the desired heart, passion, fire, and commitment to represent Jamaica?
Those who have eyes to see, let them see!