Jamaica, Japan’s U-23s to clash for Kirin Challenge Cup

Members of Jamaica’s Under 23 squad.

Jamaica and Japan’s Under 23 teams are set to clash in an International Friendly game for the 2019 Kirin Challenge Cup in December.

The game is for Saturday, December 28 at the Transcosmos Stadium, in Nagasaki, Japan. Michael Ricketts, the president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), told BUZZ, that this game will be used to expose young players for possible selection to the senior Reggae Boyz squad.

“It’s just a part of our development programme and of course, our Under-23 sits immediately below our senior programme, so we had to grab this opportunity with both hands in an effort to expose some of our youngsters leading up to the World Cup qualifiers. We have asked coach Whitmore [Theodore] and Merron Gordon to take care of this group. Whitmore in particular because we want him to see some of these youngsters on the international stage and to make an assessment as to their readiness for the senior men’s programme,” Ricketts explained.

Jamaica Football Federation President Michael Ricketts.

“The Under-23 certainly are the next in line and of course we are on a path now to try and expose some youngsters at the highest level. We are hopeful that some of them, through this exercise, will make the transition,” Ricketts added.  

In July, Jamaica’s Under-23s, under head coach Donovan Duckie’s with Gordon as his assistant, failed miserably in their Caribbean round Olympic Games qualifiers. Duckie and the Federation parted ways after. Whitmore will be using the game in his continued search for players to improve the senior team in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Reggae Boyz head coach Theodore Whitmore.

Kirin Challenge Cup tournament was started in 1978 then known as the Japan Cup and was contested between national teams all over the world.
The first nation to win the competition was Argentina but host Japan are the tournament’s most successful team with eleven titles, followed by Peru with three titles. Bosnia-Herzegovina are the defending champions.