NO one can know for sure how a condemned man feels on his final walk to the gallows. One can only imagine it to be a horrible thing.
On the flip, it would be quite conceivable how the very individual would react if he were to be pardoned in the final hours leading to his execution.
One or the other emotion could be on the cards when Jamaica's Reggae Boyz take their fateful walk today in their do-or-die CONCACAF World Cup-qualifying clash with leaders Costa Rica inside the National Stadium. Kick-off is at 7:00 pm.
A defeat today would not only effectively eliminate Jamaica, but it would evoke a sinking feeling of disappointment and failure on the part of the players, coaches, fans, and football functionaries at all levels.
A victory -- and for that everyone is praying — would indeed represent a stay of execution for the Boyz, as they fight for their Brazil 2014 World Cup lives, plus it would indeed be a joyous moment.
For the sake of the campaign, it is hoped that the executioner in this case, is Jamaica, and Costa Rica will be the one being led down the dark corridor of defeat.
But Costa Rica won't go without a fight, after all they are on the brink of qualifying for the World Cup, and their 14 points at the top of the table is the result of hard work.
Los Ticos, as the Central Americans are called, sounded a deathly warning when they cut down CONCACAF powerhouse and previous leaders, the USA, 3-1 in San Jose on Friday.
On the same night in Panama City, the Reggae Boyz were battling with the host for three priceless points, but only came with scraps from 0-0.
After seven games, Jamaica have only three points at the bottom with their Mission To Rio campaign fading real fast.
But there is hope that it remains a mission possible, but that belief will only be validated with a win tonight.
O'brian Woodbine, who came on as a substitute in the last match, said it most eloquently when he said: "Tuesday's game we have to go all out; we can't think about anything else but three points."
Adrian Mariappa, a central defender, said that it will be crucial to replicate the teamwork from the last match. "What was also good is that everybody was working for each other, and we always looked like we could score on the break, so we have to take all these positives into the next game," he noted.
Boyz head coach Winfried Schafer, buoyed by the performance in Panama, said he has a plan to counter the slick Costa Ricans.
"I watched Costa Rica against us and against the United States and I know what we have to do. What's important is to go into that game with the same power we did against Panama," he told the Jamaica Observer.
Newly appointed and still getting to "know my players better", Schafer will have a couple of issues to wrestle with ahead of the game.
He will need to decide on who will tend goal with first-choice Donovan Ricketts out by card suspension. The German will have to choose from Richard McCallum, Jacomeno Barrett and Gariece McPherson. The natural number two, Dwayne Miller, got injured in training prior to the team departing for the Panama assignment.
Though he has been training with the team with a heavily bandaged leg, Alvas Powell could be iffy. He was substituted in the 44th minute in Panama with an ankle complaint.
Crystal Palace's Adrian Mariappa, who did not play in Panama due to card suspension, returns and will be looking for an appointment in the three-prong defence.
In Panama, Leicester City's Wes Morgan, Watford's Lloyd Doyley and Jermaine Taylor of Houston Dynamo did a creditable job to keep the hosts off the scoresheet.
"For the next match, we have plenty of players and we may change. Mariappa comes back, we have Daniel Gordon and Wes Morgan, (Jermaine) Taylor and (Lloyd) Doyley, that's the situation," said Schafer.
The coach had indicated that Bristol City's Marvin Elliott would replace the red-carded Rodolph Austin in holding midfield position.
"I think Elliott played good in this position, and the way he played he was saying to me 'coach I am here', and he played well, he made good passes and he plays good with the head, and maybe he will play this position," said Schafer on Friday night after the game in Panama.
The other midfielders in that game were Shaun Cummings and Powell who played out wide, while Jobi McAnuff and his Reading teammate Garath McCleary played inside.
Marlon King, without a club now, and Volgan's Luton Shelton, were paired in Friday's game, and while there was a lot of running from them and good teamwork, shots at and on goal were almost non-existent.
Schafer has Portland Timbers' Ryan Johnson, Bolton Wanderers' Jermaine Beckford, Doncaster Rovers' Theo Robinson, Vancouver Whitecaps' Darren Mattocks, Sheffield Wednesday's Jermaine 'Teddy' Johnson, who can both play as a midfielder and striker, and possibly Waterhouse's Jermainne 'Tuffy' Anderson to choose from if he decides to make changes upfront.
Schafer will also be banking on a 12th man to give the team extra firepower.
"I say to all of Jamaica that they should come out and support our team... the game against Panama was the key match, and since we didn't win it the one against Costa Rica is now our other key match," the former Cameroon coach said.
President of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Captain Horace Burrell, too, urged Jamaicans to support the team in their time of desperation.
"We need you the people of Jamaica to fill the stadium on Tuesday night and show that you love your team and you want to see them succeed. Their success is Jamaica's success; so by coming to the stadium this would be your way of showing that you want the best for Jamaica," noted the JFF boss.
In other CONCACAF play-offs today, the US welcome a desperate Mexico, who axed coach Jose Manuel de la Torre on Saturday after his team lost 1-2 to Honduras at the Azteca on Friday night, and Honduras welcome Panama in another intriguing contest.
Costa Rica lead the hexagonal with 14 points, the USA follow with 13, Honduras 10, Mexico have eight, Panama seven, and Jamaica a paltry three.
At the end of these play-offs, the top-three teams will book automatic berths to Brazil, while the fourth-place finisher will engage the champion of Oceania for an additional CONCACAF spot.