Commentary

Hexagonal countdown: Reggae Boyz shocker

Jamaica, which has had its way in the Caribbean in recent years, suffered one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Caribbean Cup when it was shocked by French Guyana, 2-1, Saturday in their opener.

It is only the latest blow to the Reggae Boyz, the two-time defending champions, as they build up to the 2013 Hexagonal, where they are the lone Caribbean entrants.

Jamaica Football Federation boss Horace Burrell and Coach Theodore Whitmore recently returned from a recruiting trip to England. Their targets? English-based players with Jamaican roots whom they hoped to draft for the Hexagonal.

Burrell revealed a list of eight players who agreed to play for Jamaica -- including Jobi McAnnuff and Garath McCleary of the EPL's Reading -- but that list did not contain the big prizes Whitmore and he were after: Newcastle's James Perch and Danny Simpson, Swansea City's Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman and Queens Park Rangers' David Hoilett

Some players like Dyer indicated they would consider the offer but were not ready to commit. If Jamaica qualifies for Brazil 2104, Burrell said players will not be drafted into the team after qualifying.

"It would not be fair to those who have worked so hard to help us to qualify," Burrell said. 'We will not remove those players for players who could not come at the time. It makes no sense inviting a player to come here if he has no real interest."

Late in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup, Jamaica brought in Deon Burton, Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson and Robbie Earle -- all born and bred in England -- and the fab four helped it qualify for the finals for the first time.

Ricardo Gardner was the youngest member of that team and went on to play 14 years at Bolton Wanderers before being released this year.

Whitmore recalled 34-year-old Bibi after a three-year absence, and he accompanied the Reggae Boyz to Antigua & Barbuda for the Caribbean Cup, where he came on in the second half against French Guyana along with MLS players Darren Mattocks and Omar Cummings.

The Reggae Boyz started five players -- including Toronto FC's Ryan Johnson -- from the team that beat Antigua & Barbuda in October to clinch a berth in the final round of World Cup 2014 qualifying in the Concacaf region.

Considered the weakest of the three French departments that play in Concacaf competitions, French Guyana scored first on an own goal. Tramaine Stewart, on winter break from his Norwegian club Aalesund, equalized five minutes later, but French Guyana went ahead again early in the second half when Rudy Evens scored.

CHILE REPLACES BORGHI. In an effort to revive its floundering World Cup qualifying campaign, Chile hired Jorge Sampaoli, coach of Universidad de Chile, to replace fellow Argentine Claudio Borghi, who was fired after the Roja dropped five straight games and fell into a tie for fourth place in the South American qualifying competition. Borghi had taken over for another Argentine, Marcelo Bielsa, in February 2011. Bielsa qualified Chile for the 2010 World Cup.
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