Winning mentality - New coach Schafer says that’s what it will take
Blaine will assist Schafer in chase of World Cup dream
New Reggae Boyz head coach German Winfried Schafer says he took the job made vacant by the departure of Theodore Whitmore because he believed in the Jamaican players and their chances of qualifying for the Brazil 2014 World Cup even in the face of daunting odds.
The former Cameroon head coach said with the right attitude, team chemistry and national spirit, the sky is the limit.
The struggling Boyz, who sit at the bottom of the hexagonal CONCACAF qualifying play-offs with two points from six matches, chase at minimum a fourth-place finish that would pit them against Oceania's champions for an additional qualifying spot.
"What we need is 100 per cent fitness, tactical discipline and 100 per cent motivation. I will select players that are proud to play for Jamaica. First of all these players must be happy to wear the shirt of their country," said Schafer, who coached Cameroon at the 2002 World Cup Finals and led the west Central Africa nation to the African Cup of Nations title the same year.
He said for Jamaica to stand a chance of salvaging their fading campaign, every action henceforth has to be spot on.
"We cannot make any mistakes and we have to change our mentality, we have to have the mentality to win... I go to win not for a draw. We have key matches against Costa Rica and Panama and we are going to need good preparation to win these matches, and we have a good chance to at least make the play-offs," said the former Bundesliga coach.
Schafer, 63, said a strong sense of camaraderie, purpose and unity among all stakeholders will be critical going forward.
"Everybody has to feel a part of this team and I come to Jamaica because I believe that we can make it. Anything is possible, so let's do it," he said with an air of confidence.
Schafer, who also had coaching stints at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Karlsruher SC, said his decision to come to Jamaica was inspired in part by president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), Captain Horace Burrell.
"I saw that Jamaica had great potential, and after talking with Captain over the phone, I saw that he was highly-motivated and I decided that I wanted to come to Jamaica," he said at his unveiling at the JFF offices in New Kingston yesterday.
The experienced and well-travelled football tactician, who left his last job at Muangthong United in Thailand to join the Boyz, made it clear that he was not in Jamaica to change the style of play, but more the mentality of the players.
"I wouldn't want to change the way Jamaica plays by bringing the German style, what we want to change is the mentality, that's important. What we have to play is what is best for Jamaica...I need to talk to the players, to get their opinion, I need to talk to them face-to-face and then I'll know.
"I can't say we are going to play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3... I have to see the players in training, we have to do team building before I can know that," said the German.
Schafer has been offered a five-month contract which took effect immediately as he's expected to hit the ground running in preparing his programme for Jamaica's next World Cup qualifying match away to Panama.
"Initially, he'll be here until the 20th November. However, we are looking at the way forward depending on what happens as our programme must go on... we are looking at it in phases, and phase one will cover the period starting today and the remaining games and the play-offs, assuming that will become necessary as it's a possibility that we could qualify as a third-place finisher," said Burrell at yesterday's press function.
The JFF president said that Schafer was the pick of a "long list" of applicants because of the ideal qualities he brought to the position at a critical juncture on the World Cup journey.
"He was selected because of the experience he brings to coaching at the highest level, and we believe we needed that kind of experience at this time, and that's what we went for.
"We still have a chance to qualify because we have the quality, and with the right motivation and the right team in place, we can do," Burrell told reporters at the snap press conference.
No JFF official was prepared to go on record to say what salary Schafer will be paid, but Burrell did say that part of the remuneration will be covered by Brazilian sports marketing agency, Traffic Sports, a partner of Caribbean football.
"We were assisted by Traffic Sports... we approached them and we asked them to assist us at this very important phase of our qualification, and they have assisted us. Now, we are looking for further assistance through corporate sponsors out there," said Burrell.
While not revealing numbers, Burrell said that Schafer's package is tied to a bonus offer.
"We won't be discussing salary, but what I can say is that we couldn't really pay Mr Schafer what he deserved and what he wanted, but I am happy he was able to settle with the terms and conditions that we can afford.
"And yes, there is a bonus package and everyone would benefit from — the players, the staff, and just about everyone," said the JFF boss.
Co-ordinator of women's football in Jamaica, Vin Blaine, has been appointed Schafer's assistant, and the Harbour View man said he was delighted to continue serving his country and football.
"Working with Schafer is going to be a great experience as he has coached at the highest level, and I know I have a lot to learn from him," Blaine told the Jamaica Observer.
He said as far as he knows he will, for the time being, remain head of women's football. "For now I have to juggle because we are coming up on a tournament next week (for the women), but for now I have not been asked to relinquish that post," said the veteran coach.
Meanwhile, The USA lead the CONCACAF qualifying campaign with 13 points, followed by Costa Rica on 11, Mexico on eight, Honduras with seven, Panama six and Jamaica languish at the bottom with two.