The Jamaica men’s national team is in Turkey, on a mini-tour that is in part about seasoning emerging talent for the next World Cup cycle, and in part about showcasing that talent on the doorstep on Europe’s soccer scouts in the closing days of January transfer window.
The squad is mostly comprised of lesser-known players from the Jamaican domestic soccer scene, with a few foreign-based up-and-comers and one or two senior internationals. Among the latter group is New York Red Bulls Kemar Lawrence.
Lawrence’s agent, Damani Ralph, has stated the player was “on the radar” of a couple of Turkish clubs - Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor. Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett has said the club has not been approached about a possible transfer for Lawrence. There is no reason to doubt either man. But it is increasingly clear Lawrence would like to make a move to European club soccer, and if that is to happen before his RBNY contract expires (thought to be at the end of the 2018 MLS season), then opportunities to demonstrate his ability on European soil will need to be maximized.
Much of the talk out of the Jamaica camp in Turkey is of the chance to catch the attention of scouts and coaches. Former New York Red Bulls II player, Devon “Speedy” Williams, told the Jamaica Observer he was well aware of the opportunity afforded by his place on the touring squad:
When you have coaches watching it is always a good thing; it would just be on us now to go out there and do what we have to do, and I am sure that some of us will get contracts.
Neither Williams nor Lawrence started Jamaica’s warm-up game, against Romanian club CS Gaz Metan on Saturday, January 27 - suggesting perhaps they are penciled in for starts in the team’s bigger game against Russia 2018 qualifiers South Korea.
Friendlies against teams heading to the World Cup are likely to form the bulk of Jamaica’s games until the summer tournament kicks off. The Reggae Boyz can be expected to continue to use such fixtures as a chance to broaden the international experience of their player pool, and as a scouting showcase for Jamaican talent.
The match against South Korea will not be a meeting of the best both sides have to offer. The Koreans are also exploring the outer reaches of their player pool, having named a relatively inexperienced (at the national team level) squad for the team’s tour of Turkey.
None of the Jamaicans and few of the Koreans who are on the field in Antalya on January 30 will be playing in Russia this summer. But this match is an opportunity for all of them to advance their careers, either with their national teams or with one of the clubs represented by the scouts and coaches expected to be watching from the stands.
Jamaica vs South Korea - international friendly
When: 6:00 am, Eastern; Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Where: Mardan Sports Complex, Antalya, Turkey
TV: ReadyTV (Jamaica)
Online: JFF YouTube channel or @JFF_football on Twitter
Our #ReggaeBoyz take on South Korea in an International Friendly match tomorrow, January 30th at 6am (JA). Tune in to JFFLive TV channel 1010 on ReadyTV or our YouTube channel https://t.co/wPsbOboIsr to watch our #ReggaeBoyz LIVE! #StillOnTheBall pic.twitter.com/Ng0qzkMm2v— Official J.F.F (@jff_football) January 30, 2018