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Sunday, May 3, 1998 Published at 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK

Teams | Jamaica | Features
Jamaica - background

Vice Captain ,Peter Cargill: "You have to have fun" [1'16'']
The Reggae Boyz are the surprise package in France - a hybrid of native Jamaicans plus English-born and based players who can trace their roots back to the Caribbean.

Qualification was a massive achievement. Football suddenly became more popular than cricket and the government called a national holiday.

The rise of the Jamaican team over the past four years is remarkable, beginning with the appointment of Horace Burrell as national football federation chief in 1994. In a little over a year the side leapt from 96th in Fifa's world rankings to 39th.

Burrell believed Jamaica had the talent to play with the world's best teams.

The appointment of Brazilian Rene Simoes as coach instilled discipline and tactical awareness into the players, quickly dubbed the "Reggae Boyz" by the local press.

No longer the minnows of Fifa's CONCACAF region, Jamaica fought for World Cup places alongside the USA, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico.

The introduction of the English-based players lifted the side after two defeats and two draws.

Victories followed and qualification was secured with a 0-0 draw at home to Mexico.

Not all Jamaican fans were happy that English-based players had taken the places of home-grown talent. But Simoes said: "I don't care what people think - once they are good players and can fit in they will play."

Finishing in the top two in a World Cup group which includes Argentina, Croatia and Japan is surely beyond them. But qualification has already brought glory to Jamaica.

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