Strong English-based contingent in Jamaica’s Copa America squad
Jamaica (100/1 Copa America outsiders), like Mexico, have been invited to take part in the South America tournament this summer before playing in their own continental competition in the Gold Cup.
Also like the Aztecs, it seems the Reggae Boyz will be prioritising the latter event, as they will stand more of a chance of success.
Under German manager Winfried Schafer, Jamaica have already tasted silverware recently, having won the 2014 Caribbean Cup last winter, although will be lucky this time if they progress from their tough-looking pool.
They have been placed in Group B, featuring World Cup runners-up Argentina, Copa America holders Uruguay and Paraguay, with the top two qualifying for the knockout stages. The two highest third-placed nations from the three groups will also reach the quarters.
It seems that Schafer has certainly called up a strong 30-man squad for the finals in Chile, with the like of English-based stars Rodolph Austin (Leeds United), Wes Morgan (Leicester City), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace) and Garath McCleary (Reading) given the nod.
Other players in England’s Football League Jobi McAnuff (Leyton Orient), Joel Grant (Yeovil Town), Shaun Cummings (Millwall), Michael Hector (Reading) and Simon Dawkins (Derby County).
Meanwhile, it seems former Rams starlet Giles Barnes is set to continue his Jamaica career and add to his two caps to date. The 26-year-old was once one of the highest prospects in England, having made his debut for Derby as a 17-year-old, but injuries stalled his rise, and is now playing out in MLS with Houston Dynamo, where he has become a goalscoring attacker.
Barnes, who is a former England Under-19 international, has already netted against a team taking part in the Copa America, Venezuela, in a friendly in March.
Another forward for the Reggae Boyz to look out for will be Vancouver Whitecaps’ Darren Mattocks, who was joint-tournament top scorer at the Caribbean Cup with three. He has eight international goals to his name, one also coming in that 2-1 win over Venezuela.
Jamaica are certainly in good form going into the Copa America, having won their last five, conceding just once, but are set for a shock against tougher opposition, starting with Uruguay, who will be without suspended Luis Saurez.
Of the 30 names called up, seven will unfortunately miss the cut, but it may not be the end of the summer for those unlucky players, as boss Schafer may want to take a whole new squad of 23 to the Gold Cup, as Mexico’s Miguel Herrera is likely to do too.
Betting tip – Jamaica win Copa America at 100/1