Schäfer blames slow start for shock defeat
Brought back to earth by a 3-2 loss to Central American hopefuls Nicaragua, head coach of Jamaica's football team Winfried Schäfer has issued a call for concentration, belief, and determination ahead of Tuesday's return leg of the World Cup qualifying tie.
On a high after their recent historic CONCACAF Gold Cup final appearance, the Reggae Boyz were stunned by FIFA's 139th-ranked Nicaragua at the National Stadium on Friday night. The result left Jamaica, now ranked at 52, in danger of crashing out of the race for qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. They must win, and by two clear goals, in Nicaragua, to advance to the next round.
"The head (intelligent football) is very important when you play a match like this, and we have to change. We have a good team, so we have to change game by game," Schäfer told reporters at Friday's post-match press conference.
"When you lose, you lose, but we have to fight. The team has to believe we can change, and that is how we will. We play to win," he continued.
This 'must-win encounter' will take place at the Estadio Nacional in Managua. Match time is 8:30 p.m.
"For the second leg, we can't start this way. We have to press for the ball, and we have to go to Nicaragua with the motivation to win," Schäfer stressed.
"Like the Gold Cup, I hope all the players will play for the team, and with discipline, so we can win the match. That is what we want," he added.
Goal scorers for Nicaragua were Manuel Rosas from the penalty spot in the fifth minute, Carlos Chavarria in the eighth, and Luis Galeano in the 48th.
Darren Mattocks scored his 11th Jamaican goal in the 68th minute, while defender Adrian Mariappa scored in the 78th minute, giving Jamaica some hope of salvaging the tie.
"I told players to play with accuracy from the first minute, and that was our problem. We made some mistakes, and they won 3-2. We have to concentrate; we have to believe we can change the match. I believe it," Schäfer reasoned.
He added that improvements and tactical changes in the second half brought Jamaica back into the match, while maintaining: "We lacked a bit of luck. We should have had more goals. We had shots, corners, and free kicks, we just didn't convert many of them tonight."