Mon | Sep 25, 2017

We played with our all - Schafer - Boyz target win in Costa Rica showdown

Published:Tuesday | March 29, 2016 | 3:00 AMAudley Boyd and Shayne Fairman
Jamaican defender Kemar Lawrence (left) is tackled by Costa Rica’s Kendal Watson during their World Cup qualifier inside the National Stadium last Friday. The game ended 1-1.

Despite putting on a fearless, entertaining and commanding first-half performance which should have seen his Jamaican team outscore Costa Rica en route to a comfortable win, Winfried Schafer labels the 1-1 result in last Friday night's CONCACAF Semi-final Round Group Two World Cup Qualifier a good one.

Now, the Reggae Boyz head coach believes his charges, who have been better on the road than at home, will win the return tie, which kicks off at 9 p.m. tonight at the Estadio Nacional de Costa Rica in San Jose.

Prior to Friday's match, the Boyz had won their two previous matches on the road, against Nicaragua (2-0) and Haiti (1-0).

On the other hand, they had lost the two prior at home, 0-2 to Panama and 2-3 against Nicaragua.

Je-Vaughn Watson scored a diving header Friday night in the 16th minute, when a number of close chances for the home team went beckoning inside the almost full to capacity National Stadium.

The Jamaicans also had the lion's share of possession in the first half and were more direct, but just couldn't get the ball into the net more than once in Friday night's game.

Analysing his team's performance during Friday's post-match press conference, Schafer called his team's play in the opening period exemplary.

"We played with our all. That's what we worked at in training, and in the second half, the players got a little bit tired. The left side had a small problem, but we showed teamwork because we are one of the best teams in the CONCACAF and the end is OK; 1-1 is OK," said the coach.

Schafer admitted that his charges were short with that elusive second goal, but showed guts as they denied the Costa Ricans space and time on the ball, a ploy they will be looking to repeat.

However, the Central Americans, led by Bryan Ruiz, who pulls the strings in midfield, will be bolder at home and should be more difficult.

"We were not complacent, and (Rodolph) Austin is not here, but I am very happy about the performance of our team. It was fantastic, and our team gave 100 per cent for the country and the people, and I am very happy about that and how the team goes out against Costa Rica," Schafer underlined.

AUSTIN STILL OUT

Austin, the team's captain, missed the first match with an injury, and will not feature in tonight's game. The player who took over the captain's armband, central defender Adrian Mariappa, appeared to have hurt his leg while stretching for the ball.

However, Schafer kept him playing for the remainder of the game, even when it was clear he could not run well enough to properly fulfil his defensive requirements.

Mariappa has recovered and will again lead tonight's squad.

The coach went for other substitutions during the period remaining and Jamaica ended up conceding an equaliser at the 67th minute, when full back Johnny Acosta scored a rebound from a save made by Jamaican goalie Andre Blake.

In the second-half when Costa Rica scored, they were actually enjoying the better of play, a reversal of form in the way both teams finished their previous meeting at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States, when Jamaica had the Central Americans against the ropes in the second half of a game that eventually ended 2-2.

Prior to that, the teams had drawn 1-1 in Kingston in a 2014 World Cup Qualifier, when Jermain 'Tuffy' Anderson came off the bench to score a late equaliser. In the away tie on that campaign, the Boyz were beaten 2-0 at the very stadium where they will meet later.

Anderson is no longer a part of the Jamaica team, which now has Clayton Donaldson leading the lines. He held up the ball well on Friday and hounded the defenders continuously.

With four points, the same as Panama and three less than group leaders Costa Rica (seven), Jamaica will be looking to change that trend of draws and win the match to keep alive their quest to play in the 2018 World Cup Finals in Russia.

Only two teams will advance from this group, in which Haiti sit at the bottom of the standings with one point, following their goalless draw in Port-au-Prince on Friday night.

Those two will be engaged later in Panama City, where the hosts are favoured. That situation puts greater pressure on the Boyz to win, with only two fixtures remaining after tonight's match.

" ... Our team's play in this match was very good," Schafer reiterated on Friday. "We intend to beat Costa Rica at home."