Jamaica, Blake eye Gold Cup berth

Andre Blake (pictured) was Jamaica's starting goalkeeper during its run to the 2014 Caribbean Cup title. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Goalkeeper Andre Blake is laser focused on helping Jamaica reach the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

The Reggae Boyz can do just that with a win over visiting Suriname on Sunday in a 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean, third-round encounter at the National Stadium. They are level atop the Group 1 on three points each.

“It is going to be an exciting game,” said Blake, who made 32 regular-season starts for the Philadelphia Union this year. “We should be ready for the challenge and hopefully we can put our best foot forward. We need a win and that is exactly what we are aiming for.

“Getting to the Gold Cup is key and important for our development as a country.”

Jamaica – the defending Caribbean Cup champion -- was the Gold Cup runner-up last year, falling 3-1 to Mexico in the final. Blake was on the competition roster, but didn’t appear in any games. That’s something he’d like to change in the 2017 edition.

“I am grateful what I have done so far for Jamaica,” the 25-year-old finished. “I have won the Caribbean Cup and I have played in the Copa America Centenario. The Gold Cup is next on my agenda and a victory over Suriname can help me achieve this dream. We need this for the fans as well.”

In addition to qualifying for the Gold Cup, the Jamaica-Suriname winner will also advance to the Caribbean Cup semifinals, which are expected to be played next year.