Sport

'It's not a shame'

Schaefer says crushing defeat to France painful but not a disgrace

Tuesday, June 10, 2014    

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Reggae Boyz head coach Winfried Schaefer has amazingly stayed positive after his team suffered a jolting 8-0 loss to World Cup-bound France at the Pierre Mauroy stadium here on Sunday.

The humiliating scoreline not only put a scar on a four-match tour that saw a "young" Jamaica team growing with each game, but it would almost certainly have wiped out any market capital gained over the past 12 days or so.

Prior to the France disaster, the Boyz gave creditable performances and earned respectable scorelines against hugely superior opponents. Against Serbia in New Jersey on May 26, they lost 2-1, then held their own in a 1-0 defeat to Brazil-bound Switzerland on May 30 in Luzern. Last week Wednesday they led 2-1 against many-time African champions Egypt in London before giving up the advantage in a 2-2 draw.

It appeared Schaefer's Boyz were on the up, but the France shocker brought them abruptly back to earth. As the German himself conceded, the Boyz at their current level are off beat when it comes to competing against the best in the world.

"Tonight we were witnesses of a game that made painfully obvious how much work is still needed to play on the same level as the regular participants of the World Cup.

"That's hurtful and will not be forgotten soon, but it isn't a shame. We must accept the fact and push ourselves to work even harder and more systematically," Schaefer wrote in a special message to the Jamaican people.

Even as the team showed positive signs against Egypt, Schaefer believed that going up against a powerhouse like France on such a hectic schedule might have been too big a ask from the players, some of whom are coming off rigorous seasons with their clubs.

"We performed very well against Egypt, defended a draw, scored twice and showed again that we improved from game to game.

"So at first sight our loss against France broke our continuing development. But four games in 12 days were exhausting for the players, with injuries that affected the performance of the team. Our last and hardest game showed us our limits for the moment," said the German.

The coach says the team remains in a development mode, and suggested that the sooner the France debacle can be cast aside, the better for the programme's continuing work.

"Now we have to shake that off (loss to France) and invest all our energy, time and spirit into the development of football in Jamaica.

"We're on a good way for the Caribbean Cup, but still at the beginning for our preparation for the World Cup in 2018," Schaefer noted.

He said after the game on Sunday, he sat with his players.

"I told my team in the dressing room after the match congratulation for coming and playing these very difficult matches at this time without good fitness, without good preparation, and having to change players from one game to another," the coach noted.

"I knew before that this match would be the most difficult because the players would be tired from the three other games, while the French were preparing at home and their players fully fit," Schaefer added.

After the battering, already Schaefer has a rematch on his mind, perhaps in an effort at seeking redemption.

"I told the French people I hope to play them again on a FIFA date when we are in good shape and good fitness to test where we are," he said.

Jamaica's worst defeat in football was a 9-0 trouncing by Costa Rica in San Jose in 1999, the following year after the country featured in its first World Cup Finals in France.

LILLE, France -- France's midfielder Blaise Matuidi (right) tackles Jamaica midfielder Rodolph Austin during their friendly international at the Pierre Mauroy stadium here on Sunday. France won 8-0. (PHOTOS: AFP)

LILLE, France -- France's forward Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring a goal during the friendly football match against Jamaica at the Pierre Mauroy stadium here on Sunday. France won 8-0.

LILLE, France -- France defender Mathieu Debuchy (right) in an aerial battle with Jamaica defender Kemar Lawrence during their friendly international at the Pierre Mauroy stadium here on Sunday. France won 8-0.

LILLE, France -- Jamaica forward Michael Seaton (right) battles with France's Blaise Matuidi during their friendly international at the Pierre Mauroy stadium here on Sunday. France won 8-0.

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