Why 2024 Will Be a Massive Year For Jamaica’s Men’s and Women’s National Teams

Jamaican football has been on the rise in recent years, and 2024 has the possibility to continue that trend — or bring the swelling momentum to a jarring halt. 

The calendar year 2023 was an incredibly eventful one for Jamaican football. Both senior men’s and women’s sides enjoyed widespread team and individual success, but it wasn’t without a fair share of turmoil along the way as well.

The Reggae Boyz and Girlz are primed for a massively important 2024. If they get it right it could be one of the biggest years in the country’s footballing history, but both sides are a few more missteps away from a massively disappointing downturn.

Here’s what is at stake for both the men’s and women’s teams this year.

Reggae Boyz

reggae boyz


It was a mixed 2023 for Jamaica’s senior men. Semifinal losses in both the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Nations League left a sour taste in the mouths of many. Still, the side managed to secure qualification to this year’s Copa America tournament.

This past year also brought some new faces to the Reggae Boyz camp, the highlight undoubtedly being Demarai Gray. The former Everton and now Al-Ettifaq winger has been Jamaica’s best player this calendar year and served as the figurehead for the current squad revamp taking place under manager Heimir Hallgrímsson.

Gray’s four goal contributions in the Gold Cup landed him in the 2023 Gold Cup Best XI, and his overall level of performance has seen him endear himself to all Jamaicans. The goals were flowing as a unit for the Boyz as well, and their 29 goals in 2023 was the most they had in a calendar year since 2008.


June 2024 brings up CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and the beginning of the road to the jointly-held World Cup in two years. Each country in qualifying will host two matches in a single round-robin consisting of six groups of five teams.

The top two teams from each group move on to a 12-nation final round consisting of three four-team groups. The second stage of qualifying in autumn 2025 will see a double round-robin competition where winners of each group will go on to compete in the inaugural 48-nation World Cup.

World Cup qualifying will be the main focus of the Boyz as they will not want to miss their chance to return to the tournament for the first time since 1998. With the expanded format plus the absence of the United States, Canada, and Mexico, who automatically qualified, this is undoubtedly the Reggae Boyz’s best chance to give fans what they’ve been dreaming of for over two decades.

Later that same month, Jamaica will kick off its Copa America campaign. The nation was drawn in group B alongside fellow CONCACAF side Mexico and South American sides Ecuador and Venezuela. While the Boyz will back themselves against anyone, and will undoubtedly put up a great fight, don’t expect them to get out of the group. The combination of the level of the opposition as well as their priorities leaning toward World Cup qualifying isn’t a recipe for success in Copa America.

When it comes to the squad, I’m hesitant to mention much of the rumor mill, however, several names are floating about when it comes to potential new additions for the Reggae Boyz, who have now made it a priority to target members of the Jamaican diaspora born in foreign countries like Gray and Michail Antonio. With how many new faces have been brought in through his tenure, you would not put it past coach Hallgrímsson and his staff adding more firepower to their ranks.

Reggae Girlz


Khadijah “Bunny” Shaw was the headline act and enjoyed the best-ever calendar year for a Jamaican footballer, period. A Ballon d’Or nomination, over 30 goal contributions for the year, and the spearhead to that unbelievable World Cup run. The Reggae Girlz will go as far as Shaw can take them, not only in 2024 but beyond.

On the field, the Reggae Girlz’s World Cup showing will live in the hearts of Jamaicans for generations to come. The team defeated Panama in the group stage of the World Cup and led Jamaica to a historic round of 16 in a group stage outing that also saw them draw with Brazil and France.

In only their second-ever World Cup appearance, they pulled off one of the biggest upsets, making it out of a group many wrote them off in.


In September last year, it was announced that the Jamaica Football Federation would not renew the contract of then-Reggae Girlz manager Lorne Donaldson.

After taking over as head coach of Reggae Girlz in June 2022, Donaldson guided the national women’s team to its second straight FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying. Donaldson was adored by Jamaicans and his tactical awareness and relationship with the players made him a fan favorite.

This decision was the latest in a long list of questionable decisions and poor management from the JFF when it comes to its best sporting product, the Reggae Girlz. This led to much of their World Cup squad declining to participate in Gold Cup Qualifiers in protest of unprofessional communication, lack of full payment, and overall poor management from the JFF.


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A post shared by Khadija Bunny Shaw (@bun_bun10)

Statements posted by team captain Shaw as well as numerous other teammates reflected this, and it still remains to be seen how things will play out.


Xavier Gilbert, Donaldson’s former assistant coach, was announced by the JFF as a temporary replacement manager for Jamaica’s two games of the CONCACAf Women’s Gold Cup Qualifiers on October 25 and 29 which ended in a loss and draw respectively.

It was announced that he would continue as interim coach for the two return fixtures, which both ended as draws, meaning the Reggae Girlz crashed out of the Gold Cup without even making the play-in qualifiers.

As things stand, there has been no further announcement from the JFF on a permanent coach and it remains to be seen if Gilbert has a shot to take the reins fully. More importantly, much of their star power and squad members that were in the World Cup run remain away from the team.

In 2024, the Reggae Girlz will have five available FIFA windows to play games, but the main story of the year to watch will be the relationship between the JFF and the players.

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