Looking beyond the 8-0 loss
Losing a football game 8-0 is, by any measure, humiliating. It's even worse when the game is transmitted internationally, as the result exposes the defeated to ridicule and questions about their quality as opponents.
After France scored their fifth goal in their rout of Jamaica on Sunday in the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, the body language of the Reggae Boyz changed. Frustration was evident — at least from what we saw on our television screen — and that, we believe, led to lapses in concentration.
That, of course, is not unexpected. It's human nature. And we have seen it every so often in competitive sport, which is driven by skill, the will to win and, most notably, pride.
Jamaica is no different from other nations that place great stock in their sporting representatives. We all love to win and, as such, whenever our teams or individual stars lose we are caustic in our criticisms. Everyone suddenly becomes an expert, stating what should have been done and, in the case of team sport, who should or should not have played.
In the case of the Reggae Boyz, we have no doubt that there will be local 'football experts' who will be calling for the dismissal of head coach Mr Winfried Schaefer. But many of those so-called experts were never supportive of Mr Schaefer's retention by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) in the first place. Their view, therefore, needs to be placed in that context.
Like Mr Schaefer, we never expected the Reggae Boyz to beat France. And, like Mr Schaefer, we didn't expect the margin of defeat to be so huge.
But what is done, is done.
Mr Schaefer has suggested that, probably, Jamaica should not have included the match against Egypt on the schedule as it was just too much for the team at this time.
As our Sport Editor Mr Ian Burnett reminded us in his match report in yesterday's edition, the Reggae Boyz left Jamaica on May 24, opened the series against Serbia in New Jersey two days later before travelling transatlantic to Switzerland to face that country in Lucerne on May 30, after which they flew to London for the match against Egypt on June 4, before flying to France on June 6 for the game Sunday night.
That's approximately 6,160 miles of air travel over 15 days. Add to that ground transportation time between airports, hotels and game venues and you get a picture of the punishing itinerary that the team undertook.
But, even if we choose to look past those facts, we cannot ignore the reality that Jamaica, under coach Schaefer, is now in the rebuilding stage of its national football programme.
What this tour has done is to give Mr Schaefer a better idea of the talent pool available to him and from which, we expect, he will start the reconstruction process.
Plus, if we take a dispassionate view of the tour, we will admit that, outside of the game against France, the team performed creditably -- losing 1-2 to Serbia, 0-1 to Switzerland, and drawing 2-2 with Egypt.
Those results suggest to us that there is great promise in the players, and they can only improve with the nation's support of the JFF's programme.
We have already seen the economic potential that getting to the World Cup Finals has for the country. Just as important is the employment opportunities it creates for our young footballers.
Jamaica would be wise to allow the seeds planted by the current programme to grow and bloom.