Schafer moving to fix scoring problem
VINA DEL MAR, Chile:
Goal scoring is one of the key areas Jamaica will be looking to fix as the Reggae Boyz get ready for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifiers.
In three matches at Copa America in Chile, Jamaica's men's senior football team lost 1-0 three times - to Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina.
While the results and performances were creditable, head coach Winfried Schafer believes more thought should be applied to scoring situations.
"One-zero, 1-0, 1-0. It' not only our striker. It's the corner, the free kick. We have to work hard in training for the Gold Cup," Schafer said of the scoring problems.
"One-zero against Uruguay, 1-0 against Paraguay is a good result, but (we need) little bit more cleverness, more professionalism in the head," the 65-year-old said, noting that Jamaica had situations to exploit before conceding in any of its matches.
"No goal from free kick; no goal from corner," he said, noting that 70 per cent of the goals at the championship were scored from set plays. "We have good players like Austin (Rodolph), like Kemar (Lawrence). The first half, after 10 minutes we have a free kick against Argentina, the same place against Uruguay, against Paraguay, and we have training, where we make one special free kick and I don't see this free kick.
"Our team, our staff and the players, we watch the free kick from Uruguay, we analyse it, we know their free kick. It's the same. They watch our free kicks and they know. We have to change the free kick and then make it 1-0 for us, and then they have to change and the match is open.
"I want more creativity; I want more from the leaders in our team," the German, who won the Bundesliga title as a midfield player for Borussia Moenchengladbach, said. He was also voted African Cup of Nations Coach of the Year in 2002 after guiding Cameroon to the title and World Cup Finals that same year.
Another area that needs addressing is the role of the point striker in counter-attacking situations. Schafer wants that person to hold up the ball long enough for teammates to arrive, then play and look to receive at the scoring end. Daren Mattocks, Giles Barnes, and Deshorn Brown started at centre, forward against Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina, respectively, and Schafer chose the Paraguay match to reflect.
"Against Paraguay, it was a difficult match. Paraguay are very aggressive. Our strikers lost too many balls and won no free kicks.
"The striker has to play and give the defender only one chance for a foul. In many situations we open the space ... and we have to keep the ball in front until the next player comes, and then we have a four against four, three against three," he explained.
"What is positive is Argentina. In the last half hour, we changed the match.
"In the first half, our team has too much respect, though that's normal when you play against Argentina. But the (other) matches, we can win against Uruguay. You can win against Paraguay," he argued.
A goalkeeping error from Duwayne Kerr led to the Paraguay goal after the otherwise brilliant keeper left his area and headed the ball on to onrushing Paraguay attacker Edgar Benitez.
"When you're in a very important situation, don't make a mistake like the header from the goalkeeper," said Schafer, who led Karlsruher to the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup in 1993-94.
The coach pointed out that he also had a chance to look at a couple of players as he looks to build a team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup final in Russia.
"For this tournament, I saw Michael Hector. I saw Simon Dawkins (the way he played) in the last match, that's what I want. He fights for the team and plays football. I don't just want somebody to play football. Everybody knows this player fights for the team.
"What we take from this tournament is that teamwork is very, very important for Jamaica," he said.