Schäfer: U-20s not ready
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica won't be looking to the national under-20 team for immediate injection of fresh talent into an ageing senior player pool, as according to head coach Winfried Schäfer, none of the young Reggae Boyz on show at the CONCACAF Championship is ready to step up.
While there is concern that several key members of the senior squad are near or over 30, especially with the next World Cup three years away and a busy international calendar looming in 2015, according to Schäfer, the current crop of U-20s is incapable of making an effective transition. He's "happy" with the senior group, but is encouraging competition for places. So far, not one of the young Boyz will be able to mount a challenge.
"We have to change, but we need players who can pressure those in place," the coach who guided Jamaica to the Caribbean Cup in November said after Jamaica's 2-0 loss to Panama at the National Stadium, which plunged the team next to bottom of Group A.
"Now, I watch my young players in the Under-20 team and nobody can play in my senior team. These players cannot pressure those already there. They cannot. In the moment, no. Maybe in six months."
talented players in the schools
Schäfer, who had been off the island until days ago, but managed to review the Boyz' January 9 game against Trinidad and Tobago on video, said Jamaica has "very talented players in the schools", but the young Boyz needed to be more efficiently equipped before they're drafted into the national programme. The training at the schools, in particular, he said, was "not good enough".
"We need preparation," Schäfer explained. "In the schools and (club) leagues it must be better."
"We have to change many things with the youth," he added. "Fitness and tactics."
The high school football season does not, he argued, adequately ready players for international competition. However, Schäfer believes the situation can improve with an overhaul of the way the youth teams are viewed by football administrators, including allowing more time for training. That's not an option, he explained, since the senior team depends on the development of young talent for continuity.
"At this level (U-20s) nobody can play better (than the seniors)," said Schäfer. "But they can if the players work more - tactically and physically. These players need our help."
El Salvador clip Canada
El Salvador surprised Canada 3-2 in Group B of the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship in Montego Bay yesterday.
The Central Americans snatched the win moments before the final whistle when Romilio Hernandez scored.