JFF, Schäfer strike deal - German to coach Boyz until 2018
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
After negotiations with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) which lasted just over a month, Winfried Schäfer has agreed to a new contract which will see him resume duties as the head coach of Jamaica's national senior team until 2018.
The German, who returned to his country for the Christmas holidays following the expiration of his initial four-month contract in November, is set to arrive in the island today.
"Schäfer returns at two o'clock in Montego Bay on Condor Airlines directly from Germany to resume his job, as we have been able to reach an agreement," JFF President Captain Horace Burrell disclosed to The Gleaner.
Schäfer was originally appointed for a four-month period in an effort to rescue the country's ailing 2014 World Cup campaign, but it proved too little too late as the Reggae Boyz finished at the bottom of the Hexagonal.
To enhance the Reggae Boyz's chances of qualifying for Russia 2018, Schäfer's return is set to be followed by numerous changes.
"There are going to be some changes, (such as) his assistants," Burrell shared.
"Schäfer will be working alongside the JFF technical team in helping to reshape and restructure football going forward. It is not going to be business as usual."
At the top of the list of the recommendations to be made by the technical committee is the appointment of a new technical director of the country's football programme - a post which has been vacant since July 2013 following the resignation of Alfredo Montesso.
The 64-year-old Schäfer has coached several German clubs, with his international coaching experience coming at the helm of the Thailand and Cameroon national teams. He led the latter to a victory in the 2002 African Nations Cup. But what has impressed Burrell most is his work ethic.
"On one occasion, he drove from Montego Bay to Kingston to watch a game and then drove back down to Montego Bay the same evening to catch a night match," Burrell recounted. "Such is the nature of the man in terms of his interest and enthusiasm, and having spent the Christmas with his family, I expect to see an even more energised Schäfer coming back."
Schäfer was so keen on staying on as Jamaica's head coach that he went as far as seeking sponsorship in his own country, a venture which Burrell is still optimistic will bear fruit.
"He is cognisant of the fact that Jamaica is not a rich country and he also believes in brand Jamaica," Burrell said. "He is a well-known football icon in Germany, so he proceeded to use his clout to get additional sponsorship from Germany. He spoke directly with two German sports goods manufacturers and, although not yet confirmed, it is looking good."
According to Burrell, Schäfer believes if Usain Bolt had been a Reggae Boy, attracting sponsors would not be an issue.
"He said to me, 'If only we could get a little bit of Usain Bolt in Jamaican football, it would be all over, because in Germany it is about Usain Bolt'."