'Champs' forces Boyz to play Antigua
The staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championship has essentially forced the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to play the lowly-ranked Antigua and Barbuda in a friendly international on March 20, during the FIFA international window.
JFF president Michael Ricketts explained that discussions with a higher profile nation were advanced, but that the staging of the mega high school track and field championships, which takes place at the National Stadium from March 20 - 24, and the inflexibility of the unnamed team, created a scheduling headache for the JFF.
This left the world 50th ranked Reggae Boyz with an assignment with the 140th ranked Antigua and Barbuda at a venue to be confirmed.
"We signed a contractual agreement this morning to play Antigua instead of another country on March 20 in Kingston. We had challenges as a particular team wanted to play us on the 24th but they have a game against the USA on March 27th but they could not play us on the 24th, which is the final day of Champs.
And, we did not wish to compete against Champs on the last day of that event," said Ricketts during a press conference at the JFF's offices in New Kingston.
"We had to forego that plan and instead signed to play Antigua. We were also negotiating with a number of other teams but for different reasons we actually ended up with Antigua," he added.
"We will also play a number of Caribbean teams in friendly games leading up to the inaugural League of Nations tournament in September. The Jamaica Football Federation is intent on going into that competition well prepared. We will be playing a number of Caribbean countries, teams that more than likely we will be playing in the League of Nations," Ricketts shared.
"Jamaica will play against Antigua in a return, also St Kitts and Grenada, Haiti and a number of other countries. We are also looking to play other teams that are participating in the upcoming world tournament (World Cup)," said Ricketts.