Winning isn't everything!
Schafer desires improved performance from Boyz in T&T rematch
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Jamaica's Reggae Boyz and Trinidad's Soca Warriors will conclude their two-game friendly international series dubbed 'Caribbean Clasico' at the Hasely Crawford Stadium here at 8:00 pm (7:00 pm Jamaica time) today.
The hosts won the first leg 1-0 last Friday at the Montego Bay Sports Complex courtesy of a fifth-minute strike by Finnish-based player Ataulla Guerra. It marked the first victory for the twin-isle republic away to Jamaica since 1949 and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is revelling in breaking the jinx.
At a pre-game press conference mid-afternoon at Trotters Restaurant yesterday, Sheldon Phillips, general secretary of the TTFA, noted that today's game will take on "heightened significance" with Trinidad and Tobago achieving that.
"We are certainly pleased to host our friends and we believe our key partners in the rise of Caribbean football. These are exciting times for our region and our fans will have the chance to witness both teams begin their march to 2018."
Phillips further noted that this match carries added significance, as it will serve as an opportunity to publicly acknowledge and thank Chris Birchall, the Port Vale player, who earlier in his international career became a fan favourite, and with his goal against Bahrain, which helped Trinidad and Tobago to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals in Germany, became a legend.
The TTFA will also use the game to acknowledge the contributions of Carlos Edwards, the Ipswich Town player, who will not be retiring from international football, but will be honoured for his service to the TTFA, in this the 14th and final international for 2013.
For Jamaica's German head coach Winfried Schafer, the main plan is for his team to show improvement from last Friday's offering.
"The result is not very important, it is secondary, what is important is the players, the development of the players... I want to see tomorrow (today) that they learn from the last match and that they minimise their mistakes," he said.
He added that he was happy for these two games as they provide the local-based players and those in the US Major League Soccer with experience.
"The first 15 minutes there were mistakes as the players were nervous and Trinidad had some chances," Schafer added. "We spoke at half time and in the second half we played very well, but our problem, as in the qualifiers, is that we don't have enough players to score goals."
Schafer said that he told journalists in Jamaica that everybody should give support to the players, even when they make mistakes, as that is the only way they can develop and the team progress.
And with that in mind the coach appears set to wring the changes for today's game, if yesterday's final training session outside the Hasely Crawford Stadium, but within the complex, is anything to go by.
In his walk through of the team there appears to be five changes from the starting XI from last Friday. Richard McCallum remains in goal, guarded by Upson Edwards and Alvas Powell in central defence, flanked by Kemar Lawrence on the left and Adrian Reid on the right.
Captain Je-Vaughn Watson and Jermaine Woozencraft, the busybody central midfielder who clearly earned the right after impressing in last Friday's game, will anchor the midfield with Omar Daley and Jason Johnson on the flanks. Teenager Michael Seaton looks set to make his first start, alongside Deshorn Brown.
For the homeside, coach Stephen Hart said he would continue to experiment with the squad.
"This is a unique opportunity for us to play two matches home and away as I said when the game was announced. It sort of mirrors what is necessary if you are trying to qualify and I would like to thank the Jamaica Football Federation for working in co-ordination with us to provide this opportunity," he said yesterday.
"It also gives me an opportunity to continue to experiment with the team, with players, to mix and match and evaluate players by seeing them in international competition, and though this game is billed as a friendly, the spirit in which it was played in Jamaica was excellent but very competitive, and in order to raise standards that is necessary."
There is no question that the home side will be strengthened by the addition of Edwards and Birchall, and with captain Kenwyne Jones also available, but Scharfer's main desire in this rebuilding phase is to see his team serve up an improved showing, final result aside.
Jamaica's squad: Richard McCullam, Gariece McPherson, Je-Vaughn Watson, Dicoy Williams, Montrose Phinn, Alvas Powell, Darren Mattocks, Omar Daley, Deshorn Brown, Jermaine Anderson, Kemar Lawrence, Michael Seaton, Jason Johnson, Jermaine Woozencraft, Andrew Vanzie, Adrian Reid, Brian Brown, Upston Edwards.