2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup:Group B- Reggae Boyz

Arch-rivals Mexico and USA will be the favourites at the CONCACAF Gold Cup .El Tri and the Yanks have won eight of the ten previous competitions, a biennial cup of nations for North, Central America and the Caribbean zone. Mexico are defending champions, having humiliated the host USA two years ago with a 5-0 hammering in the final in New Jersey.

Back then, however, both the Mexicans and the USA took second-string sides to the Gold Cup and, as a result, the tournament was not the spectacle it might have been. This time out, spread across 13 venues in the United States, there will be no depleted squads, no excuses and no half measures as the 12 participating nations vie for a single place at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

The 3-week tournament will host most of Europe’s football stars and I want to have a look at the key men who a greater chance of setting the tournament alight and making it a spectacle.

Group B will see teams like Jamaica,Guatemala,Grenada and Honduras lock horns against each other for the title.

GROUP B

Despite having had a wealth of talented MLS veterans on their rosters over the year, Jamaica has traditionally struggled both in both the Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying. They’ve reached the Gold Cup semifinals just twice, the last time in 1998 — also the only time the Reggae Boyz have reached the World Cup. With MLS players such as Richards, Cummings and Ricketts, this current squad should be able to compete in the group stage. Jamaica played three friendly matches to start of 2010, a 1–0 win over Canada at the National Stadium in Jamaica during January, 21 scored by Ricardo Fuller; a 2–1 defeat to Argentina at Mar del Plata on February, with Ricardo Fuller scoring a goal; and a 2–0 defeat to South Africa in Germany on April. In August, Jamaica started their preparations for defending their Digicel Cup title with a comprehensive 3–1 win over Trinidad and Tobago in Port of Spain. On December 5, 2010, Jamaica defended their Digicel Cup title with a 5–4 PK win in the 2010 Caribbean Championship. They have 8 players playing in the MLS.

Below is the 23 man roster who will be representing Jamaica at the Gold Cup.

Goalkeepers: Donovan Ricketts (Los Angeles Galaxy/USA), Dwayne Miller (Syrianska/SWE), Duwayne Kerr (Strommen IF/SWE)
Defenders: Shavar Thomas (Sporting Kansas City/USA), Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo/USA), Demar Phillips (Aalesunds FK), Adrian Reid (Valerenga/NOR), Eric Vernan (Nybergsund IL/NOR), Dicoy Williams (Toronto FC/USA), Ian Goodison (Tranmere Rovers/ENG), Tyrone Marshall (Colorado Rapids/USA)
Midfielders: Omar Daley (Bradford City/ENG), Jason Morrison (Aalesund/NOR), Richard Edwards (Harbour View), Jevaughn Watson (Houston Dynamo/USA), Damian Williams (Nybergsund IL/NOR), Keammar Daley (Tivoli Gardens), Rodolph Austin (SK Brann/NOR), Navion Boy (Tivoli Gardens),
Forwards: Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls/USA), Ryan Johnson (San Jose Earthquakes/USA), Kavin Bryan (Sông Lam Nghệ An/VET), Luton Shelton (Valerenga/NOR)

Experience

Goalie Donovan Ricketts plays for Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS. He is also the vice captain of the Jamaica national football team. On 23 December 2008, Los Angeles Galaxy announced they had signed Ricketts for the 2009 Major League Soccer season. Ricketts also attracted interest from Canadian side Toronto FC but he opted to join Los Angeles on the advice of his international colleague Tyrone Marshall, who had played for both sides. Ricketts enjoyed a very successful first season in Major League Soccer under Bruce Arena, leading the Galaxy to the Western Division title. His squad successfully reached the 2009 MLS Cup Final. In that championship final, he sustained a mid-game injury and was replaced backup goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Saunders filled in well, considering Ricketts started most of the games in the ’09 season, but it was not enough to fend off Real Salt Lake, who won via penalties.

In 2010, Ricketts was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. Ricketts has not only kept goal for Jamaica at the senior level, but has also done it at various junior levels for his country. He came through the national ranks under the guidance of goalkeeping coach, Paul Campbell. Ricketts is a World Cup veteran, being named to the Jamaican squad that played in the World Cup finals in France. However, with Warren Barrett and Aaron Lawrence ahead of him in the pecking order, the opportunity never presented itself for him to see any game time. Ricketts represented Jamaica in all eight of their 2010 World Cup qualifying matches, where they were eliminated in the third round stage.

The Returnee

Ian Desouza Goodison is Jamaica’s most experienced footballer. The defender has been playing for Tranmere Rovers since 2004 and has amassed more than 300 appearances for the club. The defender is back in the team after a 3 year absence. Nicknamed ‘Pepe’, the big Jamaican made his first foray into English football via then Third Division side Hull City, when he was signed along with fellow countryman and good friend Theo Whitmore by Brian Little. The Jamaican impressed during his time at Hull, epitomised by the fact that he was their Player of the Season for the 2000–01 season (his first in English football). Despite his impressive start Little’s departure as manager was followed by that of Goodison who returned to Jamaica to play for Seba United. He wasn’t out of English football long though, and Goodison joined Tranmere Rovers from Seba United on a short term deal midway through the 2003–04 campaign (February 2004) for his second spell in English football, again working alongside his former Hull boss Brian Little. He recently signed a new 2 year contract with the club which will run out in 2011.

He made his debut for the Jamaica national football team in a March 1996 friendly match against Guatemala and immediately scored his first international goal.He has collected a country all-time record of 113 caps and scored 9 goals. Goodison was included in the 23-man squad named by “Reggae Boyz” boss Theo Whitmore for the 2011 Gold Cup in the USA. If he plays,it would be Goodison’s first international appearance since November 2008.

Threat

Luton Shelton is a Jamaican’s main man if they want to excel in the Gold Cup. The 25 year old striker normally plays as a winger for the Norwegian club Vålerenga IF.He is probably one of the fastest football player in the world. Shelton has been capped at U-17, U-20, U-23 and national level for Jamaica. Shelton scored his 25th goal for Jamaica vs Guadeloupe.

In June 2008 he scored five goals in two 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying games for Jamaica against the Bahamas. Later the same month, he scored two goals as Jamaica won 7–0 and scored a hat-trick as Jamaica won 6–0. Shelton was also the top goal scorer in 2010 CONCACAF World Cup qualification matches with seven goals. On January 31, 2010, Shelton scored in a friendly match against Canada to equal Paul Young as Jamaica’s all-time leading goalscorer with 28 goals. On November 27, 2010, Shelton became Jamaica’s all-time leader scorer with 30 goals after scoring two goals versus Antigua.

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