Marc Stamp, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's national men's senior football team will be without two key players, goalkeeper and captain Donovan Ricketts as well as tough tackling midfielder Rodolph Austin, when they face Costa Rica in a must-win game in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying (WCQ) Hexagonal stage at the National Stadium tomorrow, starting at 7 p.m.
Ricketts picked up a yellow card issued by Guatemalan referee Lopez Walter Alexander for time-wasting in the Reggae Boyz 0-0 draw against Panama at the Rommel Fernendez Stadium in Panama City last Friday. Hence, Ricketts, who made his 100th appearance in that WCQ encounter, will be out due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
With Dwayne Miller not yet fully recovered from a twisted left ankle, suffered in training last week, Jacomena Barrett joined Richard McCallum and Gariece McPherson as the goalkeepers vying for the top spot.
Midfielder Austin will also miss the game because of a red card he received in Friday night's game.
Now, head coach Winfried Schafer and his coaching staff will have to make at least two changes to the line up in a game that the Reggae Boyz must win in order to stay alive in their quest for a spot in next year's FIFA World Cup Finals in Brazil.
Coach Schafer was not prepared to reveal his starting team for tomorrow's game.
However, the number one goalkeeper spot could go to either McPherson, who was in the original squad, or McCallum, who was drafted in after Miller was injured.
Marvin Elliott replaced striker Marlon King when Austin was red-carded, and placed in central midfield.
"Ricketts is out on two yellow cards and Austin is also out. The referee made poor decisions," German Schafer, who was in charge of his first game with the Reggae Boyz, told The Gleaner before a training session at the National Stadium yesterday evening.
"I am not sure of the team as yet. We will see. We know we have to make changes," Schafer added.
Alvas Powell, who picked up an injury against Panama and was replaced, is in training, but Schaefer said if he is not fully recovered he will not play.
"I don't play injured players, so if he recovers he could be in the team," the coach disclosed about Powell's chance of playing against Costa Rica.
With regards to the mental state of the team, Schafer pointed out that "as you can see, the vibe in the team is good. We are like a tiger, we have to fight. Nobody can kill us."
FILL THE STADIUM
Despite Jamaica's fading chance of a second World Cup appearance, Schafer is urging the supporters to fill the stadium.
"We have to win the three matches. The situation is the same. I know before that it is not Christmas. I hope the stadium is full. We need the 12th man in the stands,' Schafer expressed.
Meanwhile, the Costa Ricans, who could seal a spot in the 2014 World Cup Finals by beating Jamaica, are expected in the island today at 2 p.m. Their supporters are already here for the game.
With three round of games remaining in the Hexagonal stage, Costa Rica lead with 14 points, closely followed by the United States on 13 points, Honduras (10), Mexico (eight), Panama (seven) and Jamaica (three).
After the six nations complete their 10 games in October, the top three on points will qualify for the World Cup, while the fourth-placed finisher will battle Oceania champions New Zealand for another spot.