Back to the drawing book for Winfried Schafer – and possibily the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) – after the Reggae Boyz were completely outclassed by hosts Japan in Niigata on Friday afternoon.
Yet only one strike, an own goal on 16 minutes from London-born Nyron Nosworthy, secured victory for Japan.
While this was the Samurai Blues’ first success under new coach Javier Aguirre in only his third game in charge, this was in stark contrast to Schafer who tasted his ninth reversal in just 14 games as Jamaica’s coach in little over a year.
And the result leaves struggling Jamaica facing a crisis ahead of next month’s Caribbean Cup on home soil in Montego Bay, but the manner of the result will sting as much as the potential consequences for Schafer if their failure in front of goal continues.
The Boyz were, as ever under the guidance of German coach Schafer, totally toothless in attack and with their usual showing of defensive errors were not entertaining to watch.
Schafer, who had seen his Boyz ship 11 goals in their past two dire defeats, made six changes from their 3-1 debacle in Canada.
And he opted for five defenders in his starting line-up with Nicholay Finlayson, Joel Grant and Je-Vaughn Watson marshalling the midfield to leave Jamar Loza and Dane Richards upfront.
But it was at the wrong end of the pitch, as far as Jamaica fans were concerned, that all the action took place. AC Milan ace Keisuke Honda’s rasping drive on 15 minutes narrowly flew over the crossbar.
And 70 seconds later the hosts grabbed a deserved lead, albeit from an own goal.
A neat three-man move saw Shinji Okazaki instinctively curl in a telling cross into the packed box, but inexplicably shotstopper Ryan Thompson raced off his line to try to avert the danger. But the Boyz were punished as the ball bounced off Watford’s Nosworthy and rolled into the unguarded net.
Following an opening half bossed by Japan, who were full of verve and swagger, the Boyz were fortunate not to be trailing by more than one goal to the four-time Asian champions.
Honda should have got on the scoresheet on 32 minutes when Thompson again raced off his line, but the ball was chipped over the gaping goal. And Okazaki missed a golden opportunity to double Japan’s advantage when he over-elaborated by choosing to try and score with an ambitious overhead kick inside the penalty area.
Schafer was urgently required to revert to his usual half-time tactical tinkering, especially as his striking duo of Jamar Loza and Dane Richards had been so ineffective that they failed to trouble goalkeeper Shusaku Nishikawa.
Michael Seaton and Darren Mattocks were the new faces thrown on to chase an equaliser, but they too were left as virtual spectators against a well organised side.
Jamaica’s dodgy defence was shored up after the turnaround, and overworked with Japan guilty of squandering opportunities and seemingly happy to dominate in all areas.
Although the Boyz were greatly improved after the interval, they never looked likely to score. And that is the biggest problem for Jamaica, who are woefully short of goals and indeed quality goalscorers.
However, Schafer’s forwards have been given virtually no service and the lack of goals for the Boyz is not a new problem – undeniably resulting in previous coaches being axed.
Whether Schafer will survive the wrath of the JFF should his Boyz still fail to find the back of the net at November’s Caribbean Cup remains to be seen.
Schafer explained: “My players are used to a smaller stadium, but they have to get used to these. When we lose, we all lose.”