Learn from graduate class of 1998
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Jamaica, Croatia and Japan all debuted at the 1998 World Cup and were drawn in Group H with two-time champions Argentina. Jamaica and Croatia were relatively new countries after both had declared independence from their previous affiliates, while Japan was still undergoing progressive growth.
Jamaica and Japan had both been knocked out after suffering losses to both Croatia and Argentina, with Jamaica placing third with a spectacular 2-1 win against Japan. Much to everyone's surprise, Croatia made it to the semi-finals, losing to eventual champions France, and eventually placed third.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Jamaica is nowhere to be seen, while those new entrants have continued to produce astonishing results. Japan notched one of the most notable upsets of the tournament when they defeated No. 16-ranked team Colombia, while being one of the lowest-ranked teams.
Croatia defied belief, rose to the occasion and ended runners-up. Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball for being the player of the tournament.
Jamaica has a far way to go before they reach the final of another World Cup again, but taking lessons from their fellow competitors from the 1998 edition should be a guiding tool in developing a new model for the future.