News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 19, 2021: Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are about to begin. It’ll be the start of a long campaign in which there are usually very few surprises, but there will be many nations inspired by Iceland and Panama who’d managed to enter their first World Cup in 2018. The 32-team tournament is usually filled with those expected to be there, and Jamaica, who haven’t made a World Cup appearance since 1998, will be looking to upset the odds. The Jamaica football association, like many around the world, try to tempt dual-national players to play for them. They’ve lost out on players like Raheem Sterling in the past. Now, though, six English-based players have been called up into the Reggae Boyz squad for the first time for a friendly as the United States of America at the end of March.
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Antonio is a player in a funny position. The West Ham forward is thirty years old and has been trying to break into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the last couple of years. He rejected a previous opportunity to represent Jamaica at the international level in 2016, when he transferred to the Hammers. After repeatedly being overlooked to play for England, in March of this year he applied for a Jamaican passport. He’s arguably one of the more high profile players who Jamaica could convince to turn out for them. However, he wasn’t named in the squad to face the U.S.A despite it being widely reported he was going to be. Jamaica may eventually get their man.
Antonio is a good transition striker with a strong presence when receiving crosses. He’s made the move from the wing to a central position which has turned him into a more effective player. He could help Jamaica be more of an offensive threat.
The Players Actually in the Squad
Andre Gray, Liam Moore, Curtis Tilt, Amari’i Bell, Ethan Pinnock, and Wes Harding are the new players in the squad. All have considerable experience in the English game. Gray is the only player who isn’t a defender. This is why Antonio will be a welcome addition, to add to their offensive threats.
International football is different game to club football. The winners of the Euros and the World Cup both were more defensively focused than anything. They relied on being hard to score past. However, both teams had exceptional individual attacking talent to ensure they turned draws into wins. Jamaica need this kind of spark to give themselves a better chance of qualifying. Leon Bailey’s inclusion in the squad continues to be a question mark, as he has personal issues with the association. If Bailey and Antonio can come into the fold with Gray, then things might look sunny.