By Zaheer E. Clarke
Published on July 30, 2018, in the Western Mirror.
The JFF has no more excuses if the Jamaican national football team fails to qualify for the future editions of the FIFA World Cup.
Jamaica’s first attempt to qualify for the World Cup almost saw Jamaica playing in its motherland in 1966, just four years after Independence. For the 1966 qualifiers, ten teams in CONCACAF were down to contest for a single spot in the 1966 World Cup. However, Guatemala’s entry was rejected by FIFA, which left the confederation with nine teams to play in three groups of three teams each.
Jamaica, then under the leadership of Brazilian coach Jorge Penna, had beaten Cuba and the Netherlands Antilles in its first two games, each by a score of 2-0. The goals for Jamaica in the first game against Cuba came from Oscar Black in the 11th minute and Patrick Blair in the 51st minute before 10,100 screaming fans in the National Stadium. By the second game, 12,264 fans in the National Stadium beheld Lascelles Dunkley’s brace on either side of half-time, which placed Jamaica in pole position in the group on four points from two games. Jamaica drew with Netherlands Antilles, 0-0, in their third game to secure their spot in the final round with their loss in the fourth and final game of the first round to Cuba inconsequential to their advancement. As a result, Jamaica joined Mexico and Costa Rica, the winners of the two other groups, in the final round of qualification. Continue reading