Whitmore a welcome presence, says assistant coach

KINGSTON, Jamaica,  CMC – Assistant Reggae Boyz coach, Donovan Duckie, said the presence of head coach Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore for the upcoming friendly internationals against St Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda, will be important for the squad.

Whitmore had been left out of the travelling contingent following his sudden resignation earlier this month, which was due to a breakdown in contract negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation. After making an about-turn, however, he has since been re-included and was a part of the group which left here Monday for Basseterre.

“It’s important to have Tappa back with us because I’ll tell you this, his record is good, and his record could be compared to many overseas coaches that have travelled this land,” Duckie told TVJ Sports.

“The results are there, most recently he was Gold Cup finalist and I can tell you that the programme is [going] in the right direction.”

Whitmore took over the helm of the national team just over a year-and-a-half ago, and led them to the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year where they lost to United States.

Under his watch, Jamaica have moved up to 48th in the FIFA World rankings to be the highest-placed Caribbean side.

He only rescinded his resignation following an intervention by Sports Minister Olivia Grange, who mediated talks involving Whitmore and the JFF just over a week ago.

Though he is travelling with the squad, however, Duckie and Jerome Waite will remain in charge, with JFF president Michael Ricketts explaining that arrangements for the trip had been finalised before Whitmore had indicated his availability.

Duckie, who returned to the national set-up last January following a 10-year break, said Whitmore was a key figure in the Reggae Boyz.

“It’s important for him to be around, the staff that’s supporting him is also important and I think the players that are selected are players he thinks are capable,” Duckie noted.

“And these are players he will be looking at and then as we go along we’ll definitely make some changes.”

The Reggae Boyz take on St Kitts today before travelling to St John’s for Sunday’s fixture against Antigua.

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