Downswell on Peru friendly: We are hoping the youngsters will grab this opportunity with both hands ...
National Director of football, Wendell Downswell, believes it is a great opportunity for the young players named in the Reggae Boyz squad to face Peru on January 20 in Lima, to stake their claim not only for a place in the current World Cup qualifying squad but for the 2026 campaign as well.
Downswell is still very optimistic of qualifying for Qatar 2022 but said if the team fails to secure a spot, he believes that by giving these young prospects the opportunity it will start the process of exposing their talented and helping them gather the necessary experience for when the right time comes.
“It is a grand opportunity for the youngsters.
“So if we fail to qualify for 2022 we would have started the process to lead into the next World Cup campaign. So it is a step in the right direction.
“We are hoping the youngsters will grab this opportunity with both hands and impact the football in a positive way.
“But even if not now, it is a start to the next campaign and a new generation,” he said.
The team consists of young Jamaica Premier League (JPL) talent and first time call-ups in Oquassa Chong, Dwayne Atkinson, Devonte Campbell and Ramone Howell along with Tevin Shaw, Jourdain Fletcher, Jamoi Topey, Jaedine White and Amal Knight.
The overseas contingent, includes mainly North America-based players, which comprise names such as Kaheem Parris, the only European-based player, Kevon Lambert, Peter Lee Vassell, Lamar Walker, Alex Marshall and Deshane Beckford.
Downswell, himself a former national coach, said it is important these players get consistent games, so they will be better prepared for the demands of international football by the next qualification cycle.
“There is no doubt about their potential and ability. It is for us to create the right environment for them.
“This forms an integral part of the process as it relates to the development of local players. We have to provide them with the requisite exposure at the international level.
“These games are part of their development, so that when the real thing comes around they will be ready because they would have gotten some International exposure rather than throwing them in the deep end.
“So with this exposure they will be better able to make the transition into the senior unit,” he said.
Chairman of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) technical committee, Rudolph Speid, noted that apart for giving new coach Paul Hall an opportunity to try out his methods, the game against Peru is an opportunity for the coach to see other players.
However, he too believes young talent should be given regular opportunities, and said they are looking at having a B squad to give young players exposure and experience.
“The coach wants to see what else is available and we want the coach to get his hands dirty before the qualifiers and get the opportunity to put his methods to the test.
“There are also positions to look at and we are giving him an opportunity to do that. This is a win-win all round, as the idea is to have some of these players retained in the final World Cup qualifying squad,” he said.
He pointed out that they have some very good talent at the youth level looking to transition into the senior team and says a second team will give them enough time and games to develop their international experience.
“These are some of the most talented players coming from the under-20, under-21 and under-23 Olympic squad.
“Those were very good teams and we want to give them the opportunity and see who makes the best use of it,” he said.
“A lot of countries have two teams, a young team and a senior team, and Jamaica should be no different. We should always have a young team looking for talent and give players opportunities.
“The next World Cup qualification cycle is a far away and we are still trying to qualify for this World Cup. But it ( match) will give us an immediate look and a look into the future,” he said.