Jamaica aims for Gold Cup summit

Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore (second from left) is interviewed by former U.S. international Cobi Jones during a CONCACAF Gold Cup media event on March 7, 2017, in Santa Clara, California, USA. (Photo: Howard Smith/isiphotos)

SANTA CLARA, California – After reaching the heights of a runner-up finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup two years ago, Jamaica believes similar success can be achieved in the 2017 edition.

It became the first Caribbean squad to reach the final in 2015, when it fell 3-1 to Mexico at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

After being eliminated from CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the semifinal round, though, general expectations about Jamaica’s ability to maintain a high level of play were adjusted somewhat.

That being said, the Reggae Boyz have advanced to the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup finals, which will be contested in June. As result of advancing to the final four in that competition, they also claimed a berth in July’s Gold Cup.

Undoubtedly, Jamaica is ready, willing and able to make the climb back up the CONCACAF mountain. In order to move ahead, however, it will need to first navigate a Gold Cup group that consists of Mexico, El Salvador and Curacao.

“One may look at the groups and rate our chances highly, not only to progress to the quarterfinals, but also to top the group,” Jamaica head coach Theodore Whitmore told CONCACAF.com. “I must say it will be a tough group. Curacao are a rising force in the Caribbean, Mexico are CONCACAF giants and El Salvador are rising in Central America as well, so we need to be on our game to get the results we want.”

Whitmore, who also guided Jamaica in the 2009 and 2011 Gold Cups, says the Caribbean Cup finals in Martinique will give him a clear idea of what his team will be like for the Gold Cup. His side will face French Guiana in the semifinals on June 22.

“I believe the CFU Caribbean Cup semifinals is a good dress rehearsal for us before going into the Gold Cup,” finished Whitmore. “It will test to see how far we have come in our evolution of the team and if we have made any progress.

“For the Gold Cup to be a success, we need show we are applying what we are doing in training and being more clinical with our chances.”