In a culture that believes that talent reigns supreme, the value of good playing surfaces is sometimes underestimated. Recently, government embarked on a programme to improve the quality of high-school playing fields. Something similar is needed for football and cricket fields if players are to properly learn the skills they need. Bumpy fields make it impossible for them to control the ball and pass it at the required level of proficiency. Perhaps, in exchange for a tax concession, companies involved in landscaping could be invited to help in this area. The target would be to renovate at least one football field per parish each year and provide the expertise and staff to do the maintenance. The next critical element is the establishment of a national playing philosophy. Our biggest asset is sprint speed, and a style that embraces that asset may well suit Jamaica best. This may run at odds with our love of Brazilian and Barcelona football, but beauty can have many faces. Whatever style we choose, it should become the template for all of Jamaica’s national teams. That would allow newcomers to the senior team to fit in seamlessly. Once this choice is made, choosing players from the diaspora will be much easier because the selector will be looking not just for good players, but for those who will fit. The wholesale elimination of players from the diaspora could also eliminate the exposure they have received elsewhere. Lest we forget, Paul Hall, Fitzroy Simpson and Deon Burton, all based in England, boosted Jamaica’s drive to qualify for the 1998 World Cup with their competitiveness, professionalism and skills. The door should never close on such an input. The same logic applies to home-grown players who ply their trade abroad. Instead, an overall programme of work should be undertaken to improve Jamaica’s football. Better- coached players on better fields working together within a playing philosophy that suits Jamaica, will work much better. It will take time, but it needs to start now. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980. Talent reigns supreme Picking a national squad solely of local players isn’t going to save Jamaican football. The issues facing us on that field of play are too wide-ranging for that. The football fraternity will have to look itself in the eye and build a structure that produces quality play. That will take time. Pegging success to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup may be a mistake, too, as it may force the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) to rush or overlook key elements in the development process. To be fair, some work has started with the certification of many more coaches in recent years. The requirement that coaches must have FIFA certification to train high-school teams is a plus. The pay-off is better-equipped players in the future. Those who organise preparatory and primary- school football might be well advised to adopt similar regulations. Such a move would ensure that aspiring players adopt good technical habits early in their acquaintance with the game. As we all know, bad habits can be really hard to break.
A minute’s reflection was held before kick-off and visiting Cardiff fans unveiled a banner reading: “We never saw you play and never saw you score but Emiliano our beautiful bluebird we will love you forever more.”The captains of both sides also laid a bouquet of flowers on the pitch before kick-off, while Argentina shirts and flags were waved among the visiting support.Cardiff manager Neil Warnock described the past week as the toughest of his career and revealed both he and some of his players had sought the help of psychologists ahead of the game.However, in tragic circumstances, Cardiff performed admirably once the action got underway and could have given their chances of survival a huge boost had they taken advantage of a number of opportunities in the first half.Bobby Reid volleyed wide and then headed over with the two clearest chances early on.Arsenal boss Unai Emery surprisingly named Mesut Ozil as captain as the German was recalled among seven changes from the side that started Friday’s FA Cup defeat by Manchester United.Ozil was starting a Premier League game for the first time since Boxing Day, but failed to make an impact before being replaced 14 minutes from time as Arsenal struggled to get going in sodden conditions.The Gunners did have two strong penalty appeals turned down before the break, though, as Alexandre Lacazette appeared to be clipped by Bruno Ecuele Manga and then Sol Bamba.– Cardiff’s big chance –Cardiff had another big chance to go in front early in the second period when Shkodran Mustafi got across to block debutant Oumar Niasse’s shot.And Arsenal finally clicked into gear and got the penalty they wanted at the third time of asking when Manga tripped Sead Kolasinac as the Bosnian burst into the box.Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coolly slotted away the penalty for his 15th Premier League goal of the season to move to within one of the division’s top scorer Mohamed Salah.Cardiff ‘keeper Neil Etheridge stood up well to block Alex Iwobi’s powerful drive from a narrow angle moments later.However, Lacazette’s angled shot did have too much power for the Filipino stopper seven minutes from time to seal a vital three points in Arsenal’s bid for a return to the Champions League next season.The Gunners remain in fifth on goal difference, but move level on points with Chelsea, who are in action at Bournemouth on Wednesday.Cardiff on the other hand remain rooted in the bottom three, but did at least grab a consolation their efforts on the night deserved when substitute Nathaniel Mendez-Laing curled home in stoppage time.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Cardiff City were in action for the first time at Arsenal since the disappearance of striker Emiliano Sala© AFP Ian KINGTONLONDON, United Kingdom, Jan 29 – Arsenal condemned Cardiff to a 2-1 defeat on Tuesday as the Welsh side returned to action for the first time since a plane carrying the club’s record signing Emiliano Sala disappeared over the Channel Islands over a week ago.Sala never got the chance to play for Cardiff as the aircraft carrying the Argentine and pilot David Ibbotson lost contact when on its way to the Welsh capital on January 21 just two days after completing a £15 million ($20 million) move from Nantes.