JOA motivational talk inspires historic Olympic football qualification
Donovan Duckie, head coach of Jamaica’s national Under-23 football team.
Inspired by the message of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) top brass to chart their own course, key players in the Jamaica men’s Under-23 football team set-up, including team captain Alex Marshall and head coach Donovan Duckie, are talking up their chances of creating history by becoming the first national team to qualify for the Olympic football tournament.
They expressed the view at the JOA Olympic Squad Motivational Talk at Olympic Manor, the JOA’s headquarters, at Cunningham Avenue near the National Stadium in Kingston on Monday afternoon, after JOA President, Christopher Samuda, and CEO/Secretary General, Ryan Foster, threw down the gauntlet in earlier reasonings with the players.
Samuda challenged the young Reggae Boyz to “validate” their presence in Tokyo 2020 by making “history with meaning”; while Foster implored them to be “passionate about your dream” to create history.
Marshall responded: “Going into this qualifying round I think we’re ready. We’ve been preparing for about a year now, so with just the right mindset and focus on the day we can get the job done.”
They have since launched their Olympic campaign, a Caribbean Football Union (CFU) first-round Group A encounter against Dominica on Wednesday at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.
Marshall noted: “I think we’ve a good chance of making it to the Olympics so we just have to work hard, work for each other and follow the coach’s instructions.
“I think it all starts with the coach. We see that coach is very passionate about it and I think that is spreading throughout the team – everybody is willing to give their 110 percent out there, that’s something that can take us far throughout this competition and hopefully we’ll make it to the Olympics,” the Jamaica captain added.
Group A is one of four, three of which has four teams. Jamaica’s group has three – including St Kitts and Nevis - due to the late withdrawal of Guyana. The first round ends on Sunday with Jamaica vs St. Kitts, after which the four group winners will advance to a final-playoff to decide the two countries that will advance to the CONCACAF stage.
Duckie does not expect any easy games.
“History has shown where Jamaica was knocked out in the first round of competition at U20 level by these very same countries,” he noted.
“We’ve to come to the realisation that Jamaica is not as dominant as they would have been over the Caribbean in yesteryear when Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and probably Haiti, were very superior to teams in the Caribbean. All of the teams are exposed to good coaching education,” added Duckie.
“We’ve to be very, very grateful to the JOA for hosting us today. The support that we’ve gotten over the months is unprecedented,” said Duckie. “We’re very grateful for that.”
Marshall concurred: “We’re thankful for the JOA and their contribution to these qualifiers.”
Jamaica were held to a 1-1 draw by Dominica in the opening game on Wednesday.
The qualifying tournament, which is being played at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, continues on Friday with Dominica playing St Kitts and Nevis at 4:00 pm.
Jamaica will next be in action on Sunday's final day against St Kitts and Nevis at 6:30 pm.