By RON FANFAIR
John Barnes is out as Jamaica’s soccer coach and on his way to a new job in England while former Jamaican international, Theodore Whitmore, has been given control of the Reggae Boyz for a year.
Following the team’s 3-2 win over Panama in a friendly international last Sunday night at the National Stadium, Jamaica Soccer Federation president, Horace Burrell, informed Barnes that his seven-month contract – which expires at the end of this month – would not be renewed.
The 45-year-old Barnes, who will take over as coach of English League Division One side, Tranmere Rovers, in July was disappointed that he was not allowed to coach Jamaica in the upcoming Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup tournament in the United States next month.
“I could have started the contract (with Tranmere) after the Gold Cup,” he said. “But I fully accept and understand the Jamaica Soccer Federation’s decision that they will appoint Theodore as of now to give him a chance to experience soccer at the highest level.
“I have to thank the Jamaican federation for giving me an opportunity in doing something I love. It is something I wanted to get involved with for a long time and they gave me that opportunity.”
A former England winger, Barnes – he previously had a stint as Celtic boss in 1999 – will replace Ronnie Moore, who was fired.
Whitmore, who made 37 appearances for Tranmere during the two seasons – up until 2006 – that he was with the club, served as Jamaica’s interim coach late last year after Rene Simoes was fired following the Reggae Boyz disappointing start in the semi-final round of regional World Cup qualifiers.
With Whitmore at the helm, Jamaica won its last three matches against Mexico, Honduras and Canada at home, but just failed to qualify for the final round of competition.
Meanwhile, Nigeria shut out Kenya 3-0 in Africa’s World Cup qualifying competition last Sunday.
Ikechukwu Uche took advantage of a defensive blunder to start the scoring in the game’s second minute while Obinna Nsofor netted twice in the second half to complete a comfortable home win for the Super Eagles.
In other matches, Morocco held Cameroon to a goalless draw in Yaoundé; Tunisia beat Mozambique 2-0; Gabon overwhelmed Togo 3-0; Zambia beat Rwanda 1-0; Algeria shocked arch rivals Egypt 3-1; Benin edged out Sudan 1-0; Burkina Faso completed a 1-0 victory over Malawi; the Ivory Coast secured a 2-1 win over Guinea and Ghana coasted to a 2-0 win over Mali.
And, South Africa’s first newly built stadium for next year’s World Cup finals was officially opened last Sunday in Port Elizabeth.
“For us, today’s first opening of a newly-built stadium is a huge boost,” said local organizing committee chief, Danny Jordaan. “It demonstrates the capacity of South Africa’s construction industry and our commitment to deliver on all our 2010 International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cup promises.
Eight World Cup games will be played at the 48,000 seat Nelson Mandela Bay facility.
Another five new stadiums are being built for the first World Cup soccer finals to be staged on the African continent.