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Spotlight on local Boyz /* Coach Schafer needs more Ja-based players

Published:Sunday | December 28, 2014 | 12:16 AMAudley Boyd
file National head coach Winfried Schafer
Jaheel Hyde
Cavalier's Chevone Marsh

MORE local players will get an opportunity to don the Reggae Boyz outfit as national head coach Winfried Sch‰fer looks to increase his squad for back-to-back international tournaments in mid-2015 going through to the 2018 World Cup qualification.

Jamaica's senior men's national team will compete as a guest team in the South American Championship, the Copa America, which takes place in Chile; and then the CONCACAF Gold Cup, in the United States, in June and July.

The Gold Cup is scheduled to begin three days after the Copa America finishes.

"We have three days after the Copa America ... then it's the Gold Cup," Sch‰fer noted.

"For these two cups, we have to make two strong teams. We'll need 30-40 players for these two tournaments."

Continuing, he said: "It's not enough when I have 10 local players. I need more local players."

Sch‰fer has been watching a lot of football locally, at Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) and the schoolboy levels, as he seeks talent for the Jamaica team.

However, he noted that his eyes are not only fixed on players here, but those with Jamaican lineage, who are based elsewhere.

"Everyone has a chance in our team," he stated. "It was the same in the Caribbean Cup."

locally based players

The Reggae Boyz won the regional tournament in November with a squad that contained several locally based players, notably Waterhouse Football Club's Hughan Gray, who played his way into the starting team with some outstanding displays.

"For me, it's the best player, not where you're from. We have to watch our players from outside too, but he must be better than the local player."

Improving league play, Sch‰fer notes, is the way to improve the Jamaica team.

"Good local players are good for the league; good league makes better players for the national team," he said.

"The players must watch the Champions League - What is outside? What can I learn from overseas?" he added, noting that he expects better from the Reggae Boyz when they turn out for their clubs in local competition.

"In the Premier League, the players are not good. Finlayson (Nicholy) got a red card. He cannot make that foul. It hurts his team; Campbell (Romario), makes only one shot. That is not enough; and Edwards (Upstan) was on the bench," he observed of the Waterhouse standouts in his unit at their first game after the Caribbean Cup.

"When the player goes home to his club from the national team, he must talk to his coach to know what he wants of him," he said, explaining that when he drafts them into the national programme, "we make many meetings with Romario Campbell, Finlayson, Upstan Edwards".

"When you come in, you must be fit to play, you must be hot."

Sch‰fer expressed admiration for RSPL club Rivoli, saying, "The team played very well," and listed 'Messi' (Chevone Marsh, Cavalier) and Jaheel Hyde (Wolmer's Boys') as good talents, noting that he was "happy for Foster" (Craig, of Reno FC) to be in his squad.

Sch‰fer also believes "the cooperation between the league and the schools must be better ... we have a lot of good players in the schools, St George's, Wolmer's, JC."

The latter is coached by his assistant, Miguel Coley, a young coach, whose appointment surprised many, given that he had no previous coaching experience at Premier League or national levels.

Sch‰fer stated his reason for Coley's selection, saying, "The young coach brings new ideas."

That, in a nutshell, is how the German describes his mission here.

"I don't have pressure. I come here to work to make football better. When the league is better, the national team is better," he said. "I like a player who gives everything for his team, I want everyone to give 100 per cent for this team.

"If you want to go up, you have to work harder than before. Without the work, you have no chance."