Jamaica’s U17 success may yield Olympic results

(ABOVE) The Jamaica under-23 national team lines up for photo prior to its friendly against the visiting Cayman Islands national team on March 8, 2015, in Montego Bay.

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Jamaica’s squad in qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Football Tournament could have a distinctly World Cup flavor. 

That was a conclusion reached by some observers after no fewer than eight players from the team that participated in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup were in the U23 side that beat the visiting Cayman Islands national team 4-0 on Sunday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex. 

Omar Holness, who captained the U17s four years ago in Mexico, wore the armband once again, while Nico Campbell, Odean Clarke, Junior Flemmings, Romario Jones, Shawn Lawson, Romario Williams and Jason Wright were also included.

Head coach Miguel Coley, who assists Winfried Schafer with the full national team, said he thinks those players could possibly form the base of the Olympic unit. 

“I expect this team to be good and the core should come from the under-17s that went to World Cup, if they make the final cut,” said Coley.  “The expectations are for us to do very well.” 

The roster could be bolstered further by the eventual inclusion of defender Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers/USA) and midfielder Andre Lewis (Vancouver Whitecaps/Canada), who both played in the 2011 U-17 World Cup, as well as striker Jamar Loza (on loan at Yeovil Town from Norwich City in England). 

Powell and Loza were also part of Jamaica’s 2014 Caribbean Cup-winning squad.

With the exceptions of Flemmings, who just completed his high school career, and Clarke, who attends a local sports college, all other players are based overseas. 

With the talent, depth and experience at his disposal, Coley is looking forward to the future. 

“I am satisfied with who we have now, but we have some that can come in, who we expect to fit into the system and play for the country and to fight for results,” he remarked.

At the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Jamaica posted a draw and two losses in three games, each of which was decided by one goal or fewer.