PANAMA CITY, PANAMA — Jamaica will be walking on glass when they face hosts Panama in their make-or-break CONCACAF World Cup qualifier at the Rommel Ferdandez Stadium here tonight at 9:00.
Make no bones about it, nothing but a win will be sufficient. It's as simple as that.
With a measly two points from six matches and sitting precariously at the bottom of the six-nation play-offs with four matches to go, Jamaica's Reggae Boyz's campaign should have long been over. Some people already think it is.
But true to the Jamaican spirit that has crafted champions over the decades, the Boyz are determined to fan the embers of a campaign on life support, hoping for a glorious re-ignition.
Some Jamaicans back home, no doubt, will be watching with cautious optimism of a positive result in a contest that is critical for both teams, as Panama, ranked 40 by FIFA, would also want points to lift them above the six they now have and away from 76th-rated Jamaica at the bottom.
The USA lead the pack with 13 points, followed by Costa Rica on 11, Mexico on eight, and Honduras on seven.
In other matches today, Mexico are at home to Honduras, and Costa Rica welcome the USA.
Jamaica coach, German Winfried Schafer, has confirmed that he will be using the 3-5-2 formation in today's game, a decision he claims was reached after an inclusive process involving the players.
"I talked to the players to see what's the best system for the team, not for me... many players played 3-5-2 in the past and got very good results, so we decided this is the way to go," he said shortly after the team arrived at the Sheraton Hotel here.
At that point, he would not reveal his starting 11, and indicated he would be in a better position to do so at a training session scheduled for the match venue last evening.
"No, I cannot tell you that, the only thing I will tell you is that the goalkeeper (Donovan Ricketts) will have 100 matches for Jamaica tomorrow (today)," said Schafer, the former Cameroon head coach.
But the German appeared clear about one thing yesterday when he stressed that teamwork and a confident output will have to be at the heart of a good Jamaican rendition, and no doubt the way to achieve the precious three points that would reinvigorate the flagging Brazil 2014 World Cup campaign.
"Confidence is number one and plus we have quality players. But what is also important is teamwork; when one player loses the ball everybody should fight to get it back...every player must help the other," Schafer told Jamaican journalists in the Panamanian capital yesterday.
He also reiterated that today's match is the game that will require the collective qualities of the players, and will, after 90 minutes, present a clear picture of the true status of the Mission To Rio.
"Everybody knows that this match is our key match... everybody knows what to do but we know it won't be easy... I have been meeting and talking with my players and we have been discussing confidence and discipline in the field, plus 100 per cent heart for Jamaica and that's the only way we are going to get three points... but I am sure that if everybody gives 100 per cent, we can win," said Schafer, maintaining his sermon of hope and possibilities.
With only two goals in the decisive hexagonal so far and eight conceded, it's apparent that the Boyz are in a crisis in attack and defence.
So Schafer went shopping to reinforce both areas. He brought the enigmatic striker Marlon King out of international retirement, brought back the country's all-time top scorer in Luton Shelton and sidelined winger Chris Humphrey, plus he has included the darling of Jamaican football, Jermaine 'Tuffy' Anderson.
In defence, he brought fresh faces in the mix with Leicester City captain Wes Morgan and Reading FC right back Shaun Cummings.
Giving a hint of how he wants his offensive approach to unfold, Schafer said: "The striker must keep the ball and the midfield should come and support, and in Marlon King we have a good player for this system... I am also looking for another striker to go into the space, and with that, I have a good feeling for tomorrow (today)."
Meanwhile, the Panamanians at home will no doubt be feeling good about their prospects today as well.
And with players like Blas Perez, Gabriel Torres, Roman Torres, Felipe Baloy, and Alberto Quintero within their ranks and buoyed by the runner-up finish in the CONCACAF Gold Cup earlier in the summer, the hosts will certainly fancy their chances.
When the two nations met back in Kingston earlier this year in the first leg, that game ended 1-1.