Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Follow The Trace | Early Copa exit good for Jamaica

Published:Tuesday | June 14, 2016 | 6:00 AM
Jamaica's Wes Morgan (bottom) tackles Mexico's Hirving Lozano during the second half of a Copa America Centenario Group C soccer match at the Rose Bowl, on Thursday in Pasadena, California. Mexico won 2-0.

THE Reggae Boyz participation in the Copa America Centenario is over. The members of the squad and the coaching and management staff would now be dispersing to various corners of the earth.

Always with the bigger picture in mind, it was always struggling to get excited by Jamaica's participation in this tournament and the early exit from this tournament might prove to be a blessing in disguise for our football.

It was insulting and insensitive the disparity in the seriousness and focus displayed by the administration, the coaching staff, and the players for this tournament compared to the approach for the limping World Cup campaign.

For the Copa America, the players were fully committed and all made themselves available, the coach came out swinging, regarding his desire to have all his players available, the confidence in the camp was sky high, especially after that most impressive display and 2-1 winning result in the preceding friendly international against Chile.

 

NONCHALANT APPROACH

 

All this while, local fans struggled to reconcile the lethargic and nonchalant approach to the World Cup Qualifiers, which are supposed to be the priority.

For the first game in the Russia 2018 campaign, arguably our top-three players at the time coming out of last year's Copa America and CONCACAF Gold Cup - Wes Morgan, Jobi McAnuff, and Garath McCleary - were all unavailable for that defeat to lowly Nicaragua.

When Jamaica travelled for the away game, Rudolph Austin and Giles Barnes joined these three on the unavailability list, even as the country faced elimination.

The technical and tactical leadership of the team equally lacked intensity and good sense as the Boyz struggled for consistency, motivation, and good results.

The Reggae Boyz are yet to win a single game at home. They have garnered one point from a possible nine points at home. In this run, was the still inexplicable pathetic and treason-like performance against Panama, where the players basically laid down arms and surrendered three World Cup Qualifying points in front of their bewildered home fans.

It is virtually impossible for his team to do anything to right the wrongs of those acts of football treachery.

It is in that context that the early exit from this relatively invaluable Copa America tournament should be seen.

It would have added insult to injury and rubbed salt into the wounds of the still shell shocked and hurting Jamaican fans if this team went to the Copa Centenario and performed impressively. It would have engendered a false sense of security and serve as an implicit endorsement of the way things are being done.

The continued inability and or reluctance of German head coach Winfried Schafer to discover and develop even one single young local player in his three years on the job is an instructive index of his failure and his destructive effect on the very fabric of the nation's football.

If and when the team gets eliminated from the World Cup and Schafer and all the 30-odd-year-old 'Englishmen' buy their one-way ticket and jet off to their lives after Jamaica, what will we be left with?

 

BACK AT SQUARE ONE

 

The fact that there was no development and no succession planning, zero young players brought through the system means Jamaica would be right back at square one and having to start the football cycle all over again. There will be no base, no local pool to bank on.

The Jamaica Football Federation will no doubt zoom in on England to scout and beg more journeymen and England rejects to participate in another World Cup campaign, a method that continues to go nowhere fast.

We continue to hope and pray that Jamaica's football leadership will awake from its slumber and understand that the development and transitioning of a young local-based Jamaican core of players must be the cornerstone of our senior programme.

Until then our football will continue to spiral backwards.

Schafer should have been fired a long time ago. The sooner we get rid of this 'German joker', the sooner we can begin another sensible rebuilding of Jamaica's football.