Jamaica Men’s National Senior Team head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson selected a 23-man team for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup with five England Premier League players and another four players with links to the English top flight competition.
Jamaica are in Group A at the Gold Cup along with Trinidad and Tobago, defending champions the United States and a still to be determined team from the qualifying rounds.
Powerful West Ham United forward Michail Antonio, talented Aston Villa flanker Leon Bailey, bustling Fulham midfielder Bobby De Cordova-Reid, pacy Everton attacker Demarai Gray and wily Brentford defender Ethan Pinnock—all regulars for their respective clubs—are arguably the biggest names in the “Reggae Boyz” squad for the showcase Concacaf competition.
However, there are more faces in the Jamaica squad that Premier League fans may become familiar with in the near future.
Nineteen-year-old right back Dexter Lembikisa is a youth player for Wolves and made a solitary cap with the senior team last November, in an EFL Cup win over Leeds United. Central defender Di’shon Bernard, 22, just left Manchester United where he made one senior appearance in the Europa League but spent much of his time out on loan.
Twenty-nine defender Amari’i Bell also just won promotion to the Premiership with Luton Town, while 17-year-old attacker Dujuan “Whisper” Richards has a pre-contract with Chelsea FC and should join the London-based club in time for his 18th birthday on 11 October. (Only Richards and Bailey were born in Jamaica, with the other Premiership players born overseas to Jamaican parents.)
Richards, who is marking time before he moves abroad, is the only Jamaica-based player in Hallgrimsson’s side.
Jamaica, incidentally, are on a seven-game winless streak at present and are yet to win a game under their Icelandic coach. The run includes a loss and draw against Trinidad and Tobago in Jamaica, albeit with both nations fielding experimental teams.
Jamaica under Hallgrimsson: Argentina (0-3), Cameroon (1-1), Trinidad and Tobago (0-1), Trinidad and Tobago (0-0), Mexico (2-2), Qatar (1-2), Jordan (1-2).
In seven matches, Jamaica managed one clean sheet and scored five goals—admittedly often against better than decent opposition, including world champions Argentina.
Next up for the Boyz will be the host nation, which is sure to be a tough contest even if USA, like in the last Gold, field a ‘B’ team. And then, on 28 June, Jamaica will face the Soca Warriors on 28 June at CityPark in St Louis.
Trinidad and Tobago fans will hope to have three points by then, from an opening encounter against either French Guiana or Saint Kitts and Nevis. Jamaica, if they fail to win their opener, would be desperate to end their winless run with a place in the Gold Cup quarterfinal round at stake.
It is the first time that the Caribbean rivals will ever tackle each other in a Gold Cup match.
In an all-time head to head between the two, Trinidad and Tobago have 26 wins with 25 losses and 11 draws. And in the last decade, the Warriors won three of their six clashes with one draw, one defeat and—in their only competitive fixture during that period—one defeat via kicks from the penalty marks in the 2014 Caribbean Cup final.
However, Jamaica are now ranked 63rd in the world by Fifa and Trinidad and Tobago are 104th. So it is the men in ice, gold and green who start as favourites.
Goalkeepers: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union—USA), Jahmali Waite (Pittsburgh Riverhounds—USA), Coniah Boyce-Clarke (Reading—England),
Defenders: Amari’i Bell (Luton Town—England), Ethan Pinnock (Brentford—England), Di’shon Bernard (unattached), Adrian Mariappa (Salford City—England), Dexter Lembikisa (Wolves—England), Damion Lowe (Philadelphia Union—USA), Javain Brown (Vancouver Whitecaps—USA), Kemar Lawrence (Minnesota United—USA),
Midfielders: Kevon Lambert (Phoenix Rising—USA), Jonathan Russell (Barnsley—England), Joel Latibeaudiere (Swansea—Wales), Bobby Reid (Fulham—England), Daniel Johnson (Preston North End—England), Kaheem Parris (Dynamo Kyiv—Ukraine),
Attackers: Michail Antonio (West Ham—England), Shamar Nicholson (Spartak Moscow—Russia), Leon Bailey (Aston Villa—England), Cory Burke (New York Red Bulls—USA), Dujuan Richards (Phoenix Academy), Demarai Gray (Everton—England).