Jamaica looks to youth and future

Action from the November 19, 2013, international friendly between Jamaica (yellow) and host Trinidad & Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Photo: Allan V. Crane)


PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago -- With a failed bid to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the rearview mirror, Jamaica commenced its quest toward the 2018 competition earlier this month with a home-and-away series against Trinidad & Tobago.

Winfried Schafer, who took over as Reggae Boyz head coach in July, used the matches played in a span of five days as a chance to evaluate his team’s young talent.  The results – a 1-0 loss in Montego Bay on Nov. 15 and a 2-0 defeat in Port of Spain on Nov. 19 – weren’t of the utmost importance.

“For me it is not very important about the result, the result is secondary.  The importance is the development of the players,” the German said after the second encounter.  “I’m happy about our team, which is made up of only local players and players born in Jamaica from the United States.  Players need match experience.  These youngsters did what was asked, but we just did not score tonight.”

Of the seven United States-based players Schafer called in, two were younger than 20-years-old.  D.C. United forward Michael Seaton, 17, and 19-year-old Portland Timbers' defender Alvas Powell joined domestic high school midfielders Insamnia Cohen and Khesanio Hall in the squad.

“Many players from this team played their first match outside Jamaica and it is difficult,” Schafer noted.

Schafer said he noticed some correctable mistakes, like too much dribbling, and forwards not checking back, from the more inexperienced players.

“We have to watch more players in our league, more training, separate training, individual training, the player must come to us and we have to work with these players on tactics, technique and fitness,” Schafer said.  "Many players were very tired.”

Although the Reggae Boyz return winless after the two-legged series, Schafer added he has a better understanding of the players who can move Jamaica forward internationally.

“It’s OK.  For me it was clear now after these two matches which players need to work more, which players, their quality is not enough for the national team, they have to work more at home,” Schafer concluded. “We have time.”