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THE SUSPENSION of Reggae Boyz coach Winfried Schäfer fC
The specific offence of unsporting behaviour against a match official will cost the German his place on the bench for the games against Panama at home and Haiti away. Looking at the circumstances under which the offence itself was committed, I think it was totally unnecessary, unbecoming, and absolutely unforgivable for a coach of Schäfer’s experience.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to see my technical leader involved, expressive and passionate while going about his job, but he has got to be controlled and smart about it, especially when so much is at stake. The point in the game at which the Jamaican bench flared up with indiscretion was when the Reggae Boyz had just seized control of their destiny.
The crucial second goal scored by Simon Dawkins with less than five minutes of regulation time remaining was actually being celebrated when Lance Laing got yellow carded, then reacted, and got a red.
Schäfer ’s impulsive reaction to that sequence of events landed him and the entire campaign in the current hot water. That’s not what is expected from such a senior and experienced coach who has seen and done it all at this level. Calm, cerebral leadership, and astute situational analysis is what is expected in those crucial minutes counting down to the Boyz achieving the bigger objective of advancing to the semi-final round.
One could understand this kind of irrational reaction if the Jamaicans had not yet got the goal and were staring at World Cup elimination, or if the Jamaicans had been victims of bad refereeing decisions and reacted negatively. In those scenarios, if the players and the coach lost their cool out of frustration and desperation – it would be much more understandable. But to go down that road in that moment of glory was nothing short of stupid.
This game was not against one of our more traditional regional rivals such as Mexico, the USA, or Costa Rica. The Jamaicans were playing against Nicaragua, caught in a precarious position – which was all of our own doing – after their disastrous display in the first-leg match at home. There was no room for an emotional meltdown having got so close to the finish line. The mission in Nicaragua was simply to right a temporary wrong against an inferior opponent with our eyes always on the bigger prize. ALL NOT LOST To get suspended in such a fixture when the wider objective was being met is a novice act.
Fortunately, Schäfer’s suspension is exclusive of his presence on the bench and in the dressing room for those first two games. All, therefore, is not lost as the coach will still be allowed to instruct and travel with the team.
If, however, Schäfer ’s absence directly or indirectly results in Jamaica losing crucial ground in this semi-final round in those two early fixtures and eventually exiting the World Cup at this stage, then all fingers should deservedly be pointed at Schäfer and his silly actions in those crucial moments in Managua. Not only would it be shameful on Jamaica and disaster for our football programme, it would even more so be a big shame on Schäfer.