Nov. 16, 1997
No more should they be called the Reggae Boys. These boys are now the Reggae Men, the Reggae Lions!

The tiny island nation of Jamaica beat back all the doubting thomases to create history and become the first English speaking Caribbean nation to qualify for the World Cup Finals in France as they played to a 0-0 draw with Mexico here in the national Stadium. Jamaica needed only a draw to advance ahead of El Salvador who needed to win their final game against the USA to have a chance. They lost 4-2.

Playing before a capacity crowd the Reggae Men ensured themselves of that all important point as they opted for safe play. At times the Mexicans looked reluctant to come forward but the Jamaicans did not mind as they were content to knock the ball around in defense.

The entire nation is immersed in celebration. The atmosphere inside the National Stadium was tremendous and some of the players cried tears of joy at the final whistle.

Many Jamaicans, both local and in foreign countries can now make arrangements to travel to France with certainty next summer. The Jamaica Football Federation will be given approximately US $500,000 for qualifying and US $1M for each game they play in France next year. Prime Minister PJ Patterson quite appropriately made a post game announcement declaring that tomorrow, November 17 will be a national public holiday. This is probably the best move to make as many work places will see a rather "slim staff turnout" tomorrow.

Jamaica will no doubt be one of the most popular teams in France next June. Many local "entrepeneurs" are collecting in any way they can off the popularity of the Reggae Men as they sell Jamaican flags and souvenirs on the road. One fruit vendor on Constant Spring road sells his fruits by the name "Reggae Boys fruits". If I am not mistaken he sells "Simoes apples" and "Deon Burton plums". These "entrepeneurs" have extended across the waters as there have been those in foreign countries who have also been doing something along these lines.


If you want to know more about Jamaican football, go to this site.

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