1998 PROGRAMME AS A GUIDE Former national team coaches Carl Brown and Bradley Stewart do not believe that the proposed two-and-a-half extra spot allocation to CONCACAF for the 2026 World Cup will make it easier for Jamaica to qualify for the World Cups Finals. Jamaica and CONCACAF teams’ chances of reaching future World Cup finals would be enhanced if the sport’s governing body agrees to increase the current allotment of three and a half places for the 2026 Finals as part of its tournament resizing, which will see 48 teams competing, up from the current 32. Brown, who served as RenÈ Simies’ assistant during the successful 1998 World Cup qualification campaign, pointed out that Jamaica failed to the make top six or final (hexagonal) round in the last two qualifiers. “We are talking about it being easy. We have to consider other teams are thinking the same. They see the opportunity as better than it presently is. So even smaller Caribbean countries see it as a great opportunity to one day play the World Cup, but if we sit back and do nothing, these people will surpass us,” Brown reasoned. “We were not in the last six for this World Cup (qualifying), so even in six spot we would miss out. We are talking about it being easier and we can’t make top six, so there’s a lot to be done,” said Brown. However, he believes that to be regular World Cup qualifiers, Jamaican football officials must revisit the ’98’ programme and use it as a guide. “The blueprint is there from ’98’, but it is not going to be easier unless you do your homework. We don’t have to go to Central America, we can start here, but we feel we are better than the Caribbean and we are missing opportunities for our players. We have to get to the Caribbean championship semi-finals and final. That will get us to the Gold Cup. So we shouldn’t be talking about World Cup unless every time the Gold Cup comes around we are there. “But if you don’t get them exposed, they are just going to get to a point and no more. Since ’98’, we haven’t done enough preparation to get back into the World Cup,” he declared Former assistant coach to Theodore Whitmore, Stewart shared similar views. “Nothing would be easier for us. To get there, you have to come through the preliminary round and be in top six, and the competition structure has to change to support the numbers,” he cautioned. “So if we can’t make top six and there are six automatic places, we would need a bigger competition with more teams so you can have a top six or seven,” he added But like Brown, Stewart said having a training camp for local players and playing regular international games is the only way to get Jamaica back to the World Cup. “We need consistent training of the grouping, have international exposure regularly, because there may be quality, but you must have consistency playing together,” he stated.