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McCleary's ReggaeBoyz diary from Copa America

8 June 2015

Garath joins Hector on Jamaican adventure

Royals duo Michael Hector and Garath McCleary flew out to Chile late last week to embark on a Copa America campaign with Jamaica.

After receiving international clearance, it is a first call up for Hector, who is eligible to represent the Reggae Boyz through his family, while McCleary has been penning updates from his trip already, diarising his trip out to South America so far.

The tournament kicks off on Thursday when hosts Chile face Ecuador, but Jamaica's action begins with a match against Uruguay on Saturday 13th June.

The Royals duo, who are joined out there by former Reading players Jobi McAnuff and Adrian Mariappa, could line up against the likes of Barcelona's Lionel Messi in games a group that will pit Winfried Schafer's side against Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.

McCleary, who has been capped nine times so far, has been taking some snaps and providing regular updates online via 5 magazine, and the Royals' Reggae Boyz are certainly ready for the challenge.

"Just met the boys awaiting the flight to Paris. Not really looking forward to a 15 hour trans-Atlantic flight to Chile but can’t wait to get started.

(left to right) Adrian Mariappa, Wes Morgan, Jobi McAnuff, Me, Simon Dawkins, Michael Hector and Joel Grant.

"Let the 15hour flight commence! Quick stop off in and a Birdseye of Paris. Just so some of you can see how long the actual flight is."

Jamaica will become the first Caribbean nation to compete in the Copa America when Group B kicks off next weekend. Group A sees hosts Chile come up against Mexico, Ecuador and Bolivia, while in Group C Brazil will take on Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.

"Touch down in Santiago international airport, Chile. We didn’t know at the time but this isn’t our final destination, another 2hr wait and plane journey to Antofagasta awaits…"

The showpiece, which will be hosted across eight Chilean cities, runs from June 11th until July 4th. Jamaica recently won the CFU Caribbean Cup in Montego Bay, where they overcame Trinidad and Tobago 4-3 on penalties.

"Having arrived in Antofagasta, (where our first two games will be held) we had a really warm welcome, with an introduction for our time in Chile also dancing.

"Whilst on the way to the team hotel the host explained how we should keep vigilant and calm in case of an earthquake. Saying ‘a quake hit a neighbouring town magnitude of 8.5 on the richter scale’. She also added that ‘the Chilean people have grown accustomed to quakes, (not on that scale) but 5-6 is okay and nothing to worry about’… !

"Day 1 has been very long and tiring (around 25 1/2 hours traveling) but happy to finally be here. Good to be at the stadium where we’re due to play our 1st 2 games Estadio Regional de Antofagasta."

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