Former national senior football coach, Winfried Schaefer, says he is still very optimistic that the Reggae Boyz can qualify for this year’s FIFA World Cup tournament, despite sitting in sixth-place position in the Concacaf eight-team final round with just six games to go.
Schaefer, a German national who was the Reggae Boyz head coach from 2013 to 2016, told The Gleaner that there is still a long way to go in the tournament and, therefore, the Reggae Boyz should remain positive and confident ahead of their remaining matches in the tournament.
“My idea is that they should never give up because it is still possible (to qualify) but you need to be patient,” said Schaefer.
“You have many good players outside of Jamaica, in England, Belgium and other parts of Europe, and all have to think 100 per cent for Jamaica in these qualifiers,” he said.
The Reggae Boyz are currently on seven points. The table is led by Canada on 16 points, with the United States next on 15, while Mexico and Panama round out the top four with 14 points each. Costa Rica are just ahead of the Reggae Boyz on nine points.
The top three teams from Concacaf qualify automatically to the FIFA World Cup 2022 while a play-off berth is in the offing for a fourth-placed team.
The Reggae Boyz are scheduled to play Peru in a friendly match on January 20 in Lima, Peru, before hosting Mexico in their next World Cup Qualifier at the National Stadium seven days later.
The Boyz will then play Panama away on the January 30, host Costa Rica on February 2 and El Salvador on March 24, before travelling to Canada for a March 27 match. The final Concacaf World Cup qualifying match will be against Honduras on March 30 at the National Stadium.
The Reggae Boyz team is currently being coached by former assistant coach Paul Hall, who was appointed after the sacking of head coach Theodore ‘Tappa’ Whitmore by the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) last month.
Schaefer, who was replaced by Whitmore after he was fired by then JFF president, Captain Horace Burrell, in 2016, said he would return as head coach if he is called upon by the JFF.“I am open to talk to the federation if the federation wants to, then we will have to find the best way for the football and Jamaica,” he said, but was quick to add that “nobody from Jamaica has contacted me”.
Some of Schaefer’s notable achievements with the Reggae Boyz include winning the Caribbean Cup, leading a Jamaica team to their first-ever win over the United States in their country, a victory that catapulted the Reggae Boyz to the Concacaf Gold Cup final.
The German is currently the manager of Qatar’s Premier League club Al-Khor Sports Club.