Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz Singing a Happier Tune for Caribbean Football

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Above: Demar Phillips (Photo source: CONCACAF)

By Alexander Britell

In the face of an ongoing FIFA scandal, Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz are bringing the sport’s attention to the West Indies in a far more positive light.

With the football world’s eyes trained on CONCACAF’s bribery allegations, Jamaica’s national team is turning heads with an undefeated record at the Gold Cup ahead of its quarterfinal match Sunday against the United States.

“It’s just hard work,” Jamaican defender Demar Phillips told Caribbean Journal. “We did a lot of training, a lot of stuff like that to prepare the team. That’s the reason why we’ve been so successful — the hard work paid off.”

Phillips helped get the Reggae Boyz rolling in the Gold Cup, scoring a goal in the tournament opener against Grenada and following it up with two more in the squad’s 4-0 win over Guatemala. The team beat Honduras, 1-0, to win all three of its opening round games.

Defender Jermaine Taylor said that with the current team’s chemistry, qualifying for the World Cup would be a natural next step.

“We have the team for it,” he said. “If we keep this same bunch of players, it’s going to be easy to qualify [for the World Cup]. I’m not saying we’re bragging or showing off, we just know that with our team, and our style of play, making the world cup will be no problem for us.”

FIFA sent shockwaves through the Caribbean football world in May, when it began a probe into alleged bribery by CONCACAF officials including Trinidad’s Jack Warner. The investigation centered on a series of bribes allegedly offered to Caribbean football association presidents during a FIFA election event in Port-of-Spain. FIFA has already suspended Warner, who is also Trinidad’s transport and works Minister, and former head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louis Freeh, is leading the inquiry.

Despite the controversy, though, Phillips said it wasn’t something for the team to think about.

“I don’t have anything to say about that,” he said. “We’re just focusing on football right now.”