John Barnes excited by Jamaica role

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The Independent Football

New Jamaica coach John Barnes is relishing the opportunity to lead the country of his birth despite the tough task they face in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

The Caribbean team currently sit bottom of Group Two in the penultimate round of qualifying in the CONCACAF region after two defeats and a draw from their opening three games and must win all their remaining matches to have any chance of progressing to the finals in South Africa.

Former England international Barnes, who is in Johannesburg as a Soccerex ambassador to launch the 2008 event, was appointed to his new role by the Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) last week, but will only take charge on 1 November.

However, he is hoping the Reggae Boyz can turn around their recent form and make an impact in the remainder of the qualifiers.

"It's a tremendous honour to be managing my country," he said. "I've been trying to get back into football for many years. So it's a great opportunity to get involved.

"It's going to be very difficult to qualify for 2010. But a job only becomes available when someone loses his job and someone only loses his job when the team is not doing well."

While the Jamaicans have gained just a point from their opening games, Barnes pointed out that all those ties were away from home and he is hoping they can capitalise on their next three matches in front of their own fans.

He said: "The next three matches are all at home - firstly against Mexico and Honduras. I won't be involved in those two matches because of the contractual situation, so I have no control over those two.

"So by then either we would already not have qualified for 2010 or going into the Canada game in November, we would have an opportunity to go through to the last round of qualifying."

With the way the game has progressed commercially over the last few years and the high stakes of a managerial role, the 44-year-old knows he cannot plan too far ahead.

He continued: "Gone are the days when a manager or a coach can think long term as to what he would like to achieve - maybe 2010, maybe 2014, no. You have to think short term. What you have to try to do is win football matches.

"So for Jamaica to progress, you have to win football matches and my focus really is on the Canada game, trying to win that match regardless of whether we've qualified for the last round of World Cup qualification or not.

"Because as (England boss) Fabio Capello has found out, you're only one game away from disaster or one game away from euphoria. You win one game, you're the best in the world, you lose one game, you're the worst in the world."

The former Watford, Liverpool, Newcastle and Charlton midfielder is therefore planning to take one game at a time.

"The expectancy level is very, very high. From my point of view, I'll be looking forward to taking it game by game and trying to move Jamaica forward by getting them to play a consistent balance so we can be competitive.

"Because we've seen African teams, very similar to Caribbean teams, they can play brilliantly one week and then disastrous in the next week. So we need almost a German mentality that we can get a level of consistency whereby we're competitive in all the games we play.

"Then come June, depending on how the relationship between myself and Jamaica goes, we can then look to go further or go our separate ways.

"So I'm not thinking long term at all, I'm just think about the Canada game first and foremost, then after that trying to improve the national team," he added.