Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
President of the Jamaica Football Federation, Captain Horace Burrell, is clear in his mind that more needs to be done to advance the country's football, but is focused on the immediate task at hand which is for the Reggae Boyz to win all their remaining games in the CONCACAF Hexagonal World Cup Qualifying round.
The Reggae Boyz are at the foot of the six-team group on three points from seven games after playing to three draws with the latest coming on Friday against Panama.
Jamaica's opponent tonight inside the National Stadium, Costa Rica, leads the group with 14 points, followed by USA (13), Honduras (10), Mexico (eight) and Panama (seven).
Following the playing of the next three rounds of games the top-three teams will advance to next year's World Cup in Brazil while the fourth-place team will play off with Oceania champions New Zealand in a home-and-away tie to earn the right to be among the 32 teams to participate in football's greatest showpiece.
"We will be trying our endeavouring best, because we still have a chance, though very slim," Burrell shared. "But we are still going to continue to give it our best and just hope for the best."
Burrell believes the effort of the team against Panama, which saw them secure a 0-0 draw despite being reduced to 10 players in the 57th minute, should be encouragement enough for the Jamaican public to turn out and lend support to the team.
"Looking at the effort of the players, I would expect a capacity crowd; as to whether or not it will happen, I am not sure," Burrell said. "In excess of 2,000 Costa Rican fans are flying in, which will make it the highest attendance by a visiting team in our history."
Burrell is looking beyond the current campaign, as he wants to see the country's football grow. He also hopes that the various stakeholders will come on-board to ensure that current head coach, Winfried 'Winnie' Schäfer, who was appointed in July, is retained for at least the next five years.
"When Mr Shäfer was employed to the JFF, he came here and we decided to take his employment in two phases,' Burrell revealed. "Phase one would be the period that we are in now and phase two is post-World Cup.
"We all said that it will be a time that we would be able to assess him and he would be able to assess us. Currently, I think Mr Shäfer has some tremendous qualities. He is truly an experienced coach and has some great attributes to go along with that. Mr Shäfer is an excellent find who will always do well in a country like ours."
Burrell believes that in order to do all that is needed to aid the growth of the sport locally and be able to afford the services of Shäfer over a prolonged period, various stakeholders have to chip in.
"The Government, private sector and the football community will have to come together and see if we can craft a plan to keep him (Shäfer)," Burrell said. "We are satisfied that Mr Shäfer is a top-class coach who could do wonders with our football development."
Burrell has also once again called upon the Government to use the entire CHASE Fund to support the various sports played on the island, which he said was its intended purpose when conceptualised by former Prime Minister Michael Manley.
"Only about 40 per cent (of CHASE Fund) goes into sports, the rest goes into other areas for which it was not intended," Burrell argued.