Royals captain Jobi McAnuff is set for his first Jamaica appearance in more than ten years this evening, while Garath McCleary is in line for his Jamaica debut.
The duo are set to join fellow Royal Adrian Mariappa in the Reggae Boyz’ team to take on Mexico in an important World Cup qualifier today. Jamaica have a genuine chance of reaching the World Cup in Brazil next year, so the Jamaican FA have gone all-out to encourage the likes of Jobi and Garath to proudly wear their country’s shirt.
Also on duty tonight is Adam Federici, whose Australia side play Romania in Spain, while Chris Gunter, Hal Robson-Kanu and Simon Church’s Wales take on Austria at home. Kaspars Gorkss’ Latvia are in Japan, Alex Pearce’s Ireland host Poland and Jonathan Henly is in the Scotland under-19s squad away to Holland.
Speaking exclusively to our matchday programme for the Chelsea game, skipper McAnuff said, “It’s exciting. Jamaica is where my dad is from and I’ve got a lot of family over there, cousins, aunts, uncles. I got married over there and I’ve been there to visit family a lot. I’m born and bred in England and people sometimes don’t understand players going off to play for another country, but for me being Jamaican is part of my life and I feel equally Jamaican as I do English.
“It’s something I tried out over 10 years ago and because I needed to establish myself here, I put it on the back burner, which is where it has stayed throughout my career. Over the years there have been various attempts to try to get me to go back and I met up with the Jamaican FA when I was over there in the summer. They are in the middle of a World Cup qualifying campaign and having qualified from the group, they are into the final qualifying group now, ten games starting with Mexico away.
“I feel I’m at a stage in my career when I’d like to really give it a crack, it’s something I want to experience and test myself against. The end result will hopefully be qualification for the World Cup which is the goal. Having spoken to Feds and other people who have played on that stage, it would be fantastic. You grow up watching the FA Cup, the Premier League and the only thing that can compare is the World Cup. So just to be part of the qualifying campaign would be amazing. And as long as it fits in with what’s happening here, it’s something I’m really looking forward to.
“And that is important. My focus is still very much with Reading. At the start of the season I made it clear that it was important to be here to try to get Reading off to the best possible start, especially being captain. And I’ve spoken to the gaffer about it and he’s more than happy for me to go and give it a go. That was the most important thing to me – I’ve got a great relationship with him and Reading is where I call home now, so it was important I had the club’s blessing.
“Football in Jamaica is massive. We’ve got a really good chance of getting to a World Cup and, having seen what happened in 1998, seeing what an impact it had on the whole country, it’s something I can’t wait to get involved in. I know how important it is for the people of Jamaica and I consider them to be a big part of my life.”
The Jamaica game kicks off at 2.30am UK time, and you can watch it live on a number of betting websites including www.Bet365.com – a deposit may be required.