Action from the Caribbean Cup second round game between host Haiti and St. Kitts & Nevis on October 12, 2014, in Port-au-Prince. (Photo: Yonel Louis)
MONTEGO BAY, St James --- Ryan Thompson may not be Jamaica’s first-choice goalkeeper at the moment. He may never even see any action in the 2014 CFU Caribbean Cup already underway in Montego Bay.
A team player personified.
The 29-year-old Tampa Bay Rowdies goalkeeper said he recognizes the importance of the Reggae Boyz being crowned champion at home as the nation’s football needs a lift after a string of unfavorable results.
“I really think that this Caribbean Cup is something that our football and our country really need,” expressed the former Harbour View FC standout. “It’s now up to us to apply ourselves and give of our best.”
He offered that the seven other teams in the championship are just as hungry as Jamaica, if not more so. Therefore, he thinks his team will have to be at its best of it hopes to conquer all.
“I have friends who play for the other countries at school in the USA and the professional environment, and I know that they have been working towards this tournament and it’s important for them as well, so I don’t expect anything less than great competition throughout,” Thompson stated.
He is delighted that Jamaica is hosting the tournament, which presents home advantage and for local fans to get to see their footballing stars.
“It’s a great feeling, especially that we get to host it because it gives us a chance to play in front our families and friends,” he said.
The other goalkeepers in the Jamaican squad are DuWayne Kerr (Sarpsborg 08/Norway) and Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union/USA).
Jamaica opens play on Wednesday in Group B against Martinique, followed by matches against Antigua & Barbuda (November 14) and Haiti (November 16).
Thompson has his eyes set on greener pastures beyond the North American Soccer League. And who could blame him based on his talent and experience playing in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, becoming the first Jamaican to do so.
“That’s why competitions like the Caribbean Cup is important, because if Jamaica does well then I will get more respect out there in the professional world,” said the former Shamrock Rovers star. “I do belong in the big leagues out there, as I have been playing well through my youth careers for Jamaica to this point, and I have also done well overseas in the Champions League and Europa Cup, and I am just here waiting to get a break.”
Meanwhile, Jamaica suffered a major setback when inspirational defender and captain, Leicester City’s Wes Morgan, made a last-minute withdrawal from head coach Winfried Schaefer’s 23-man squad.
Morgan, who has played every game for his English Premier League side, was given time to recover from a foot injury he has been carry for some time. His place in the Jamaica squad is expected to be filled by Waterhouse FC’s Upston Edwards.