Photo: Reggae Boyz starting eleven in the World Cup qualifier against Honduras on October 15th, 2013. The game ended in a 2-2 draw.
After witnessing a second abject display by the most loved “football country” in the world in the space of four days when Brazil was easily brushed aside 3-0 by the Netherlands in the third-fourth play-off of the World Cup, on the heels of the 7-1 battering from Germany in the semi-finals, I made a statement “Brazilian football no longer has an identity”.
People weighed in with their own opinions, some agreeing, others not agreeing, while others still didn’t see a “need to panic”, since it is believed that the current crop can come good in Russia in 2018.
When Brazil “Out-Spained”, Spain to win the Confederations Cup quite easily in Brazil last year, I boldly predicted that we had witnessed the end of the Spanish reign in football and people thought that I was crazy and jumping the gun. Fast forward twelve months and the defending, World and European Champions were humiliated in their first game at the World Cup 5-1 by the Netherlands and exited the competition after the group stages scoring a single victory over Australia, following a second humbling at the hands of Chile.
Spain is no longer able to do what they had so effectively done for the last eight years. Most people can only recognize change when it is blatantly obvious, some can never see it.
Jamaica’s football developed an identity just prior to qualifying for the World Cup in France in 1998 and since then has tried to recapture it but there is a marked difference with successive World Cup qualifying campaigns. The “identity” of the players being used is far less Jamaican every time and consequently our chances of qualification becomes far less with each attempt.
We have failed to pick up on that subtle difference on each occasion just as we have failed to pick up on the subtle change in the colour of the Jamaican flag. How many of you have noticed that the “Jamaican flag” being sold at the entrance to the National Stadium before sporting events is not a Jamaican flag? Those flags are black, green and yellow. Yet you buy them because you don’t know the difference. The colours of the Jamaican flag are BLACK, GREEN and GOLD!
We lose sight of our identity, we lose sight of what makes us unique, without even realizing it and then we wonder why it is that we fail in attaining our desired goals.
What defined the Reggae Boyz was the “Reggae” in our Boyz! Now we gladly accept Germans who may have a fifth cousin who is Jamaican over our own home grown talent. We can’t expect to reach the pinnacle of the world’s most popular sport with this approach.
Likewise the Samba last seen in the 1980’s with the likes of the dearly departed Socrates, Eder, Junior, Zico et al, has faded, become a distant memory, now replaced by the stoic presence of Fred, Hulk and Jo. People loved Brazil because of the artistry they brought to the beautiful game and others hated them for the same reason. A lot of the haters are now offering pity and sympathy to the once most vaunted enemy. That is what it has come to!
The rhythm and the beat of the “samba” need to return to the game of the five time world champions to restore the natural order of things, likewise the “Reggae” needs to return to the Reggae Boyz if we are ever to return to the “greatest show on earth”.