Uruguay clip gallant Boyz
Winfried Schäfer did not want to talk about the referee. But he couldn't. Not after the man in the middle appeared to have made a bad call at the 52nd minute that led to the only goal his Jamaica team conceded and, ultimately, their defeat against Uruguay in their Group B match of the 2015 Copa America at Estadio Calvo y Bascunan yesterday.
"I don't want to talk about the referee," the Jamaica coach replied when the first question of the post-game press conference was directed at him.
When the opportunity presented itself later, Schäfer explained how Uruguay star forward Edinson Cavani mistakenly referred to the island as an African country, to show that the country is not viewed among the sport's giants.
The most questionable and hurtful call proved the downfall of the Jamaicans after a free kick was awarded when central defender Michael Hector, who initially lost possession, was adjudged to have been fouled after stepping on the ball in an attempt to retrieve it.
Nicolas Lodeiro played the free kick to the far post, Jose Giminez headed back inside and Rodriguez was free to score from the top of the six-yard box.
"Our problem was the first goal. It was a free kick for us, not Uruguay," he said.
"The players are very disappointed about the situation from the free-kick," admitted Schäfer, who praised his team after a display that won over the Chilean crowd and had them shouting "Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica" as the team turned up the pressure on their much-vaunted opponents.
Uruguay, the eighth ranked team in the world, are the defending Copa America champions.
Jamaica, ranked 65th, are the Caribbean champions, but little is known of their football abilities and they were not expected to prove a challenge for the two-time World Cup winners yesterday, but they gave the South Americans a good fight.
"People in Chile (and) South America now know that we play good football in Jamaica," Schäfer said. "I'm proud of the performance of my team."
Uruguay's scorer, Rodriguez, produced the first real scare of the match, a shot near 37 minutes that Duwayne Kerr dived to save, even as it appeared to be going wide.
Darren Mattocks, playing as a lone striker, then took a lovely pass off Simon Dawkins, dismissed the two defenders on him and made Jamaica's clearest chance of the match, only to miscue his shot wide from near six yards.
Uruguay's big striker, Cavani, then got in on the act, flopping to get a penalty, then hitting a sharp rising chance wide, to close out the first-half action.
Early second-half play brought the telling moment when Uruguay got the free kick that led to the goal.
Jamaica stepped up their play and had Uruguay fighting for their lives as they controlled the action while moving the ball sweetly across the park and into the belly of the Uruguay defence.
A decent addition to their improvement was Lance Laing off the bench, whose left foot swept in some sweet crosses that produced flashed headers from Giles Barnes and Deshorn Brown, which went wide of the far post.
"I was surprised at their speed (and) the pressure they applied when they never had the ball," Uruguay's veteran coach Oscar Tabarez conveyed through an interpreter. "They are well trained."