Schaefer banks on 'good spirit' among players to fuel Copa America missionMonday, June 08, 2015
ANTOFAGASTA, Chile - Jamaica's senior football Head Coach Winfried Schaefer is eagerly awaiting the Reggae Boyz's participation at the Copa America Chile 2015 edition, which begins on Thursday and runs through to July 4.
Not that he's the coach of the tournament favourites. Far from it. But the German has locked himself and his team into believing that the Caribbean team's participation in the 99-year-old tournament, which pits some of the best national teams parading arguably the finest set of players, is a win-win situation.
The Boyz were the first team to arrive in Chile last Friday, though they did so without the full complement of players. But, since then, players have been arriving every day, with three arriving yesterday and one, DuWayne Kerr, expected in today. The 23rd member of the group is not expected until Sunday, after the first game against Uruguay.
But despite these setbacks, Schaefer has focused his tunnel vision on one thing, and one thing only: For the Boyz to give a good account of themselves, as this is a massive opportunity for them to showcase their talent to the world.
"Everybody is happy that our team can play in the Copa America. It is a big highlight for Jamaica. It is a new atmosphere. The Caribbean Cup was good for us, but the Copa America with Argentina; Brazil, Uruguay, wow! I'm happy I am the coach of Jamaica and we can play against Argentina, it is fantastic and the players think the same," he told the Jamaica Observer following last evening's training session at Parque Juan Lopez.
"Everybody is working hard and going in the gym. Our goal is teamwork. We have a very good team with good spirit in the team from the senior professionals to those who play in Jamaica, which is very good and which is what I want. I want players with heart and players who want to play for Jamaica. That is important."
At yesterday's session, which had 18 players participating, a lot of emphasis was spent on the tactical aspect by Assistant Coach Miguel Coley before Schaefer ended with set plays.
Darren Mattocks, Deshorn Brown and Lance Laing, who arrived yesterday, are expected to join in as the Boyz engage local club side Cobreloa FC in a practice game set for Parque Juan Lopez at 4:00 pm (2:00 pm Jamaica time). Cobreloa FC finished 14th in the premier league last season.
Schaefer has made it clear that this is a practice match and not a test for Uruguay, and no player will play more than 45 minutes or an hour.
"I don't want to play 90 minutes with the first team. We will change maybe after 45 minutes or half an hour. This match will be like training because we cannot make test for Uruguay, it is not the same. It is not important the result; it is only important the match character," he explained.
"I stayed out the field today (yesterday) and I watched the players, and nobody is here for holidays. Some of them are here to get the attention of scouts so that they can get a new contract.
"For us it is important that when we go home after the tournament and the Jamaican people are proud of us. The result I can't predict, but I prefer to play against the strongest team than the weakest team. This tournament and the Gold Cup is for us to build a team for the World Cup qualification in August/September," the German added.
The third goalkeeper in the group, Duwayne Kerr is slated to arrive today, leaving just FC Dallas's Je-Vaughn Watson as the last player to arrive on Sunday, a day after Jamaica open Group B against Uruguay at the Estadio Regional Calvo y Bascunan.