Jamaica tackle Egypt in London friendly today
Schaefer pleased with Boyz’s preparation for Egypt
LONDON, England — Head coach Winfried Schaefer wants his charges to continue on their path of growth when they face Egypt's Pharaohs at the Matchroom Stadium here at 8:00 pm (2:00 pm Jamaica time) today.
The Jamaican Reggae Boyz, who have already engaged Europeans heavyweights Serbia and Switzerland in respective 1-2 and 0-1 losses last Monday in New Jersey, USA, and last Friday in Luzern, Switzerland, face the 24th ranked team on the FIFA Coca-Cola list.
"First the people may think that Egypt is a small team, but they are one of the best teams in Africa," Schaefer told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, as he set the tone for his measured expectation from his charges.
The German coach, who led fellow African team Cameroon to success in Africa at the turn of the century, conceded that it will be a very difficult game for his players, but he remains hopeful that the good groundwork started two games ago will continue today in what is forecast to be rainy conditions at the home of Leyton Orient Football Club.
"I hope after the match everybody will be pleased with how well Jamaica can play football. I hope we make the next step (on the road to progress), and play better than against Switzerland and not at that same level," he said.
The coach was pleased with the team spirit and togetherness over the period and he believes it is getting even better. Since arriving on Saturday, the team worked out at the West Ham United Training Ground on Sunday and Monday, before taking to the match venue yesterday.
On Sunday physical trainer Andre Waugh took the players through their paces with a bit of handball play, before the intensity increased on Monday with three-quarter field tactical play. Waugh was forced to cut his tour short yesterday to return home due to personal problems.
On Monday, Montego Bay United striker Dino Williams, and goalkeeper Ryan Thompson who plays in the US League, arrived to complement the squad.
Waterhouse midfielder Romario Campbell, who is expected to replace Demar Phillips at left midfield, was a bit off the pace in both mobility and decision making on Monday, being barked at a few times by the coach, who seems determined to invest in the talented playmaker.
He is expected to play behind striker Michael Seaton today in a three-man midfield alongside captain Rodolph Austin and the ever impressive Joel Grant. The coach has asked both Campbell and Grant to be always ready to provide options for Seaton, and the team continues to find a method of keeping possession of the ball in attack.
Wide players Simon Dawkins, who hobbled off the pitch at the half-way stage of practice yesterday with a knock to his right knee, and Christopher Humphrey, are also expected to provide attacking support to Seaton.
Doctor Derrick McDowell was quick to allay any fears of Dawkins missing the game. "He will be all right," was his immediate response.
The defensive four is expected to be the same as against Switzerland with Wes Morgan and Adrian Mariappa teaming up in the centre, flanked by the fast-improving Kemar Lawrence and Lloyd Doyley. Jacomeno Barrett will be the man between the goal frame.
"Everybody makes very good training, not only the overseas-based players, but the locals as well. I saw Beckett (Nicholas) play better, Upstan (Edwards), everybody, and that is good for our team," added the coach, who was quick to remind that Egypt have won two of the last three editions of the African Cup of Nations.
The Egyptians, who are also residing at the same Marriott Waltham Abbey Hotel as the Boyz, arrived in the main yesterday from Chile, where they led 2-0 after 20-odd minutes, before being pegged back 3-2 by the South Americans last Friday.
Coach Schaefer is cognisant of the fact that 1998 World Cup champions France will entertain the Boyz on Sunday in Lille, and he has plans to rest some of his first teamers from as early as possible.
"I hope to change many players at half-time because the French team is only four days later and they are very strong," he explained. Schaefer said Edwards, Nicholy Finlayson, Hughan Gray and Dino Williams should see some action today, as well as Jamar Loza, the 20-year-old Norwich City striker and Ramil Sheriff, another 20-year-old defender, who was the Norwich City Under-21 skipper. He has been training with the squad since its arrival in London.
"We cannot play every time with the same players, it is not good for the players, it is not good for the clubs, and it is not good for us. We have enough players," ended Schaefer.