Boyz ready for Costa Rica
Jamaica's head coach thinks the timing of an off-field money issue could spoil his team's chances against Costa Rica today.
Winfried Schäfer's players are confident their settled dispute with their local federation will not.
Arguably, it's not the scenario a team facing its opening match, and toughest group stage foe wants.
Such adversity though, oftentimes brings the best out of teams and Jamaica's Reggae Boyz are aiming to prove that when they tackle their Central American counterparts in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B football match at StubHub Center beginning at 5 p.m.
"I don't think it'll impact the team at all. Everyone's focused and we're ready to play the game," said striker Giles Barnes, referring to a team strike that booted its Monday evening training session, as they held their position for a demand that was later acceded to by the Jamaica Football Federation.
"We're gonna do it for Jamaica. We're all ready, everyone knows what their job is so we're all good to go," Barnes exclaimed, after a lively team training session yesterday morning at StubHub Center.
Asked if the situation could serve as an inspiration for the team, Simon Dawkins, who'll play on Barnes' shoulder, responded "I think so".
" We're all together. You see us everyday on the training field, around the hotel, we're all friends and we're together. That's one thing, going into games and keeping a good spirit," he noted.
Their belief is shared by central defender Jermaine Taylor, who returns to the starting team after spending much time on the sidelines at the Copa America, the South American championship at which they played as a guest team in Chile last month.
"For me personally I think that's a big motivation," he said. "This is our job, this is our livelihood, you want to do well for your country and you want to get paid for it, get compensation. Overall I think it's going to have a positive impact on the team," Taylor said.
Jamaica had such an in-competition before, at the 2010 Caribbean Cup in Martinique. They eventually went on the lift the title.
A good result against Costa Rica is key, as it sets up the team for qualification past the group stage. Only the top two are certain to qualify, with Canada and El Salvador, which play the feature at 7:30 p.m. (9:30 p.m. Jamaica time), also battling for Group B honours.
There are three groups and the best two third-place teams will also move onto the quarter-finals.
"We need a good result. The Copa America we play very well, we lost three matches 1-0 and that is not important now," the German coach said of losses to Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, some of the world's biggest teams.
"We've confidence against Canada and El Salvador. Costa Rica ... it's difficult, a very good team," Schäfer continued.
"My biggest problem is the issue. I'm not happy about the newspapers having many, many info that's not good for the atmosphere. The focus has to go only on this match."
A big part of Schäfer's focus is goals. He thinks key contributions for those should also come from midfield, which has Garath McCleary and Joel (Jobi) McAnuff, who has been in outstanding form, along with the thoroughly efficient captain, Rodolph Austin, and Je-Vaughn Watson, at the controls.
Also key is defence, where Kemar Lawrence and Adrian Mariappa retain places as fullbacks and Dwayne Miller between the sticks.
"We've to make no mistake in the defence. When we come back to our level from the Copa then we've a chance for winning."