Reggae Boyz to use CONCACAF Nations League to improve FIFA rankings
The Reggae Boyz will open their Nations League qualifying at home to the Cayman Islands in September. They also have fixtures with Bonaire, Suriname and El Salvador.(PHOTO: Concacaf.com)
Technical Director of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Wendell Downswell says the Reggae Boyz have embarked on a programme intended to see them climb to within the top 30 on the FIFA World rankings over the 2018/2019 period.
And a big part of that mission will entail the national team advancing to the CONCACAF Nations League Finals in 2019 by way of getting through their qualifying matches
The Reggae Boyz will open their Nations League qualifying at home to the Cayman Islands in September. They also have fixtures with Bonaire, Suriname and El Salvador.
The two time CONCACAF Gold Cup runners have Theodore Whitmore at the helm of their national team programme and coming are coming off successive victories over St Kitts/Nevis and Antigua/Barbuda in April.
"The CONCACAF Nations League forms an integral part of our overall programme. It allows us now to compete on a regular basis at minimal cost and it also gives us a chance within the window to play another international game," Downsell told CONCACAF.com.
"We have to strategically tap into these windows as it pertains to us getting the necessary exposure and experience. We are aiming to improve our ranking and over the next year our intention is to get to 30 or higher," he added.
"Haven't not qualified for Russia 2018 itself we have embarked on a programme to qualify for the 2022 and 2026 World Cups. Our vision now is the qualification for Qatar and beyond."
Downswell further added that Jamaica want to have a solid go at qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
"Now we are in the process of starting the Olympic programme of which we have gotten the Jamaican Olympic Association playing a significant role by sponsoring the programme. We are giving it a serious effort towards qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic games.
"In our 1998 World cup campaign, we came very close to qualifying for the 1996 Olympics and a lot of those youngsters made the transition to our '98 World Cup squad. And this is a similar programme and period for us. These players will play a pivotal role in us going forward," Downswell said.
As it relates to the development of the game away from the Senior Men's Team, Downswell believes Jamaica is on the right path, assisted by the efforts of CONCACAF as it relates to the league and club development. Downswell himself was among selected Technical Directors from CONCACAF for a FIFA Technical Directors Course in Port of Spain, Trinidad last week.
"This workshop in Trinidad speaks volumes for the game in CONCACAF and it augers well for us as individuals from our respective member associations in CONCACAF based on the knowledge we have gained during our time here. There have been some excellent presentations made here.
"Coach Education is top of our agenda at the JFF and we are placing a lot of emphasis on that. Right now we are in the process of restructuring our curriculum and we will be working closely with CONCACAF and FIFA in that process in such a way that it improves our structure in Jamaica. We are also placing emphasis on our youth development programme.
"Our president came in on the mandate on placing grand emphasis on youth development and we have started the process. Courses being offered by CONCACAF allows us the possibilities of exploring other options and implementing youth programmes of great significance for the development of the game in Jamaica and we are very excited about this," Downswell added.
He also commented on the role the CONCACAF Champions League and CONCACAF League is playing in raising the club game in countries like Jamaica.
"We have now two teams that have qualified for the CONCACAF League and we know what an impact that will have on our league and our players. It allows us to compete at a higher level especially if we can get to the Champions League," he said.
"Our programmes in the league and club development are on stream and we are looking to see how the country on a whole can benefit from these opportunities through CONCACAF. This augers very well for our future," Downswell stated.