Jamaica rewarded for keeping the faith
Schäfer surprises region to capture Caribbean Cup
Captain Horace Burrell, the Jamaica Football Federation president, has had his faith in coach Winfried Schäfer repaid after the Reggae Boyz lifted the prestigious Caribbean Cup on Tuesday evening.
Burrell, whose hard work in getting the showpiece eight-nation tournament hosted in Montego Bay despite the apathy of corporate sponsors and fans of Jamaica, is now expecting to witness a new and successful era for his beloved Boyz.
Schäfer enthused: “I’m very proud of this team, everybody should be proud of this team — they are fantastic.
“The aim was always to win the tournament, and the players went over the limit to win the Caribbean Cup.”
The head coach has amazingly transformed the Boyz over the past three matches, all without conceding a goal, to propel them to the undisputed champions of the Caribbean.
Schäfer’s record going into the Caribbean Cup was so dismal that Burrell publicly voiced his frustration about potential new corporate sponsors turning their back on Jamaica. And even die-hard fans had given up on their side under Schäfer who suffered five defeats in six games going into the tournament on home soil.
But Burrell and Schäfer stuck to their guns and were richly rewarded with the German picking up his first silverware at the helm of Jamaica, which was admittedly helped by Trinidad & Tobago — the eight-time Caribbean Cup champions — threatening to boycott the final at Montego Bay Sports Complex over a pay dispute of US$1.5m with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).
Jamaica made a mockery of their lowly FIFA world ranking of no113 to hold Trinidad & Tobago (world no49) to a scoreless draw before defeating them 4-3 on penalties, after neither side could find the back of the net during extra time.
Shotstopper Andre Blake, who won the Caribbean Cup’s Golden Glove Award, saved Kenwyne Jones’ spot-kick and put off Khaleem Hyland whose thunderous shot sailed over the crossbar.
Jamaica’s Darren Mattocks, who scored in each of the opening three ties, had to share the tournament’s Golden Boot prize with Haiti hot-shot Kervens Belfort and Trinidad & Tobago striker Kevin Molino.
The top four teams from the Caribbean Cup, which includes third-placed Haiti — Fairplay Award winners — who saw off defending champions Cuba 2-1 in the Tuesday’s third-fourth play-off game, qualified for next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.
And the triumph means that Jamaica have won a place among the elite CONCACAF nations, as one of only six sides, to join the 10 South American nations for a special edition of the 2016 Copa America Centenario in the United States.
Schäfer added: “This is a very strong squad with very good spirit and big on discipline. I hope everybody now knows now what is possible in Jamaica when we have good preparation, when we have a good time with our team and a good service for our team — only then we can make success.
“If we want to go to the 2018 World Cup finals we have to do more to succeed. The focus must now be our team because everybody eats from our team. I told the players in the locker room that they went over the limit. I’ve now won the Caribbean Cup to add to winning both the African Cup and the Dubai Cup.”