Sport

Forget 1998, set sights on future — Schafer

BY SANJAY MYERS Observer staff reporter myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 30, 2014    

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FORGET 1998. That is the line taken by national football head coach Winfried Schafer ahead of his new four-year stint.

The German, who has agreed in principle to the long-term contract with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), but is yet to sign, is urging fans and all stakeholders to set their sights on the future.

He said that the glory and pride of qualifying for the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France under Brazilian technical director Rene Simoes, should be put aside for now.

Schafer, speaking in slow, deliberate English, argued that analysis should be done on the four failed campaigns since and wants measures put in place to better the country's chances for the 2018 showpiece in Russia.

"1998 was the last World Cup. I was in Jamaica for three to four months and [people say] 'Oh, 1998, 1998, 1998'. But that is finished," he told the Jamaica Observer at yesterday's Sports Club forum at the newspaper's Beechwood Avenue base.

The 64-year-old, who initially joined the Reggae Boyz last August for four months, taking over from Theodore Whitmore, at the back end of the failed Brazil 2014 campaign, added: "Nobody talks about 1998 in France. What about 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014. It's four World Cups without Jamaica.

"Now we have to analyse why. Why Jamaica was out in South Africa, in Germany, out in [South] Korea and now out in Brazil?

"Jamaica was not in the [regional CONCACAF] Gold Cup [competition]. All the other teams in the final group — Honduras, Mexico, United States, Panama and Costa Rica played in the Gold Cup, so it was like training [for them]," the soft-spoken coach said in a deep German accent.

Not for the first time since he came to Jamaica, the veteran coach insisted that the Reggae Boyz at the senior and at the age-group levels, will have its own identity of playing football.

"We cannot play the German style or the Brazilian style here.

"It has to be Jamaica's own style, but we have to work better on the tactics, on the fitness, on the motivation and on the courage," he said, noting that training strategy in Germany has also changed over the years.

Aside from the JFF working to get assistance from corporate partners to fund his salary, Schafer said that there has to be support for the over-arching programmes to give him firepower to effectively move the country's football forward.

"We have to talk together and work out what we have to do to make football better in Jamaica. We think about the past, but we also have to look to the future.

"We have to work together with club coaches and give the local players what they need. They need training, they need the best fitness coaches. I want to help Jamaica's football. That's why I'm here. I want to bring Jamaica success," he said.

Schafer coached Cameroon to the African Cup of Nations title in 2002 and, riding on a buoyant crest, guided the Africans to the final of the FIFA Confederations Cup the following year.

The Reggae Boyz are expected to face 1998 World Cup winners France in a friendly international on June 8. The match is scheduled for the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, France.

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