Gold Cup increase good for regional teams, says Ricketts
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts believes that increasing the number of teams in the Gold Cup finals from 12 to 16 teams, coupled with the CONCACAF League of Nations tournament, which is set to kick off in September, will be of great benefit for Jamaica and regional football, mainly in providing exposure at the highest level for players.
However, he warned that it is vitally important they maintain or better their current 50th world ranking, while adding that both the Gold Cup and the League of Nations will give the Reggae Boyz many opportunities to continue improving their world ranking..
"There will be an increase from 12 to 16 teams ... and I would want to think that it augurs well for football in the Caribbean and, by extension, CONCACAF. We (CONCACAF countries) need to play games. If we do not play games, we will become stagnant. So we are looking to play as many games as we can leading up to the League of Nations.
IMPROVE OUR RANKING
"Some of these games are practice games but they will help our ranking ... . But it means that more teams will get an opportunity to get exposure at a higher level in CONCACAF.
"We will also get the opportunity to improve our ranking, depending on who you play. So we have no issue with it; if it was up for a vote, I would vote for an increase in numbers," he said.
He added that for those who may argue that an increase in teams dilute the tournament, having an increase of four teams will not water down the competition.
"I don't think it will, because from 12 to 16 is just four teams. We have 41 teams in CONCACAF and what it will do is give more teams an opportunity to compete at the higher level."
Meanwhile, after climbing to 50th in the ranking recently for the first time since 2005, Ricketts declared that it is crucial to remain there or climb higher if they want to be one of the seeded teams when the League of Nations CONCACAF tournament gets going in September.
"Once we maintain our ranking, as right now we are fourth in CONCACAF, we will be in the elite group for the League of Nations ... If we fall and go too far behind, then we would probably not be in that elite group. There will be three tiers, and we will be in the top tier, so it is important that we keep our position or make it better," he insisted.