Schaefer says Boyz gave of their best, but needed a bit of luck
PENNSYLVANIA, USA -- Coach Winfried Schaefer's eyes and tone told the story.
The usually charismatic Reggae Boyz coach had lost the gleam in his eyes and his fun-loving poke at reporters.
He was clearly hurting from Jamaica's 1-3 loss to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup match at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday night.
The heartbreaking defeat for the title-chasing Boyz was orchestrated by Mexico Captain Andres Guardado, who opened the scoring in the 31st minute, with follow-up goals from Jesus Corona (47th) and Oribe Peralta (61st).
Substitute Darren Mattocks, a scorer in the 2-1 semi-final win against the USA in Atlanta last Wednesday, restored Jamaican pride with a goal in the 80th minute.
But even though the loss was a crushing blow, Schaefer said all of Jamaica should be proud of the players who were winners in their own rights, and the people of Jamaica ought to be proud of their record-breaking feat.
"We didn't get the gold medal, but got the silver and we have to be proud of this team as many people did not give this team a chance and I am very proud to be the coach of this team," he told reporters after the game.
Schaefer, the much travelled German coach, said the players sacrificed a lot for the country, some even risking their jobs with their clubs.
"It's normal the players can only play one tournament, but the clubs say 'okay, the player can play two tournaments'; the players then played two tournaments, so when the players go back and they could be fired.
"The player could come into the pre-season and his position is taken by a new player, and this player has to fight again for his position, a lot of people don't know how the players work hard for his country, and for the Jamaican people," he said, making reference to perceived negatives from some Jamaicans towards the team.
"The players take big risk for their country and the players love their country, the staff and everybody loves this country... I hope the Jamaican people are proud with the team as it was fantastic," Schaefer added.
On the field of play in Sunday's title match, he regretted the missed chances by the Boyz, who appeared late in the game to have run out of steam, clearly wilting under the pressure of competing in two tough competitions in back-to-back fixtures.
In under two weeks after a strong showing in the Copa America against giants of the game, albeit a winless run, the Boyz hardly had a chance to catch their breaths before the Gold Cup descended on them.
"We got too many chances for goal, not only today but before, against the States we made quick goals, against Canada, Costa Rica and Haiti, we have too many chances for goal.
"Mexico had one chance, and they have one goal... after the half-time they come out and got one chance and one goal, while in the first 15 or 20 minutes we had chances to score, but we needed a little bit of luck," Schaefer lamented.
With the World Cup qualifiers coming up in September where Jamaica will play Nicaragua in a two-way play-off to secure their place in a daunting group where Panama and Costa Rica are already waiting, Schaefer -- still hurting from missing out on the Gold Cup trophy -- is already looking ahead.
Haiti and Grenada have a similar play-off series for their spot in the killer zone.
"Now we have to work to the future," he said.
For finishing runners-up, Jamaica will collect US$500,000, while Mexico will take home twice that amount.