Jamaica head coach Winfried Schäfer, shown above with Trinidad & Tobago manager Stephen Hart, is happy with his team's development over recent friendlies. (Photo: Allan V. Crane)
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Two defeats to highly-rated opposition in the space of five days have done nothing to shake the confidence of Jamaica head coach Winfried Schäfer.
Jamaica went down 2-1 to Serbia on May 26 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, before being edged at World Cup-bound Switzerland, 1-0, on Friday.
As the Reggae Boyz gear up to face Egypt in another international friendly on Wednesday at the Matchroom Stadium in London, Schäfer says such high level fixtures will help develop the Caribbean nation into a world class side, regardless of the results.
“You can't expect to grow, to improve and finally be successful without a challenge ... take a risk and lose from time to time,” Schäfer said.
“We lost two games, against Serbia and Switzerland but I'm not sad, not at all. We chose to play those games against two very strong teams because we are now in a development phase. It would be a waste of time to play against mediocre or even low-level teams just to present you with an easy win.”
He continued: “We want to become a better team, game by game. We are already preparing for the Caribbean Cup, and we take that serious. This time it wasn't about winning, but about achieving a number of individual and specific team successes, important steps, and I'm proud to say that we are able to do that.”
Against Serbia, Jamaica went behind to first-half goals from Manchester City star Aleksandar Kolarov and FC Twente midfielder Dusan Tadic, but pulled one back early in the second half through United States-based teenager Michael Seaton.
The Reggae Boyz then produced a strong defensive display against the Swiss, conceding the game’s lone goal six minutes from time, when Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker Josip Drmić scored.
“Against Serbia, a team with players in top clubs in Europe, we were a bit nervous in the beginning, but came back in the second half confident and strong,” Schäfer pointed out. “Over time, we played even better than Serbia.
“Then, against a very good Swiss team, we played even better, and I'm very proud because that made clear what we are able to achieve if we have the time to work together. The team was able to anticipate the strengths and weaknesses of our opponent, and reacted in a smart and efficient way.
“We saw a strategic and tactically very good game, had more chances to make a goal than the Swiss. We have to focus on holding the ball in front.”
Following the Egypt fixture, Jamaica will play its fourth friendly international friendly in 13 days, taking on host France at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, just outside Lille.
Jamaica, perennial Caribbean powerhouses, are ranked 81st in the current FIFA World Rankings and ninth in the CONCACAF region.