Costa Rica Sports – Jamaica is set to tackle table-topping Costa Rica in San Jose on Tuesday (March 29) in their latest World Cup qualifier, but even a defeat will not spell an end to their hopes of reaching the finals in Russia.
Head coach Schäfer, who has tasted back-to-back home World Cup Qualifying defeats prior to the 1-1 draw, said: “Costa Rica is one of the best teams in the region, in the end a draw was okay.
“I’m very happy about the fantastic team performance because they gave 100 per cent, but we didn’t want to lose the match.”
Je-Vaughn Watson gave the Reggae Boyz a 17th-minute lead, only for the visitors to be gifted an equaliser 50 minutes later when Johnny Acosta latched onto a spilled ball from keeper Andre Blake.
Shotstopper Akeem Chambers has been called up to the Boyz squad ahead of the second shot at beating Costa Rica.
The U20 first choice keeper replaces Portmore United’s Shaven Sean-Paul, joining Blake and Ryan Thompson as the trio of players ready to take their place between the sticks.
The Estadio Nacional in San Jose (9pm ko Jamaican time) plays host to the Group B tie, with Costa Rica having won two of their three games to top the table.
The Boyz and Panama both lie three points behind Costa Rica with Haiti propping up the table.
Panama are expected to roll past Haiti at home on Tuesday, and we’re surprisingly held to a scoreless draw in Port-au-Prince on Friday.
After the latest round of group games Jamaica will host Panama on 2 September in Kingston’s National Stadium, with the winners likely to progress – with Costa Rica – to the final World Cup Qualifying round.
Jamaica face Haiti on 6 September, where they will expect to pick up maximum points, with Panama tackling Costa Rica on the same day.
But the Boyz need to concentrate on the task in hand against Costa Rica and have been dealt a blow with Reading winger Gareth McCleary sent home after an MRI scan on his knee meant that he joined skipper Rodolph Austin and striker Giles Barnes on the injury list.
However, veteran defender Austin could have a role against Costa Rica. Schäfer added: “The plan is for the players to recover because we got a little tired in the second half against Costa Rica.
“The left side had a small problem, but we showed team work because we’re one of the best teams in CONCACAF so I’m very happy about that.”
Whether Schäfer will remain happy with his Boyz depends on how they fare against Costa Rica next, and having dictated play for the first hour in Kingston there is plenty to enthuse about.
The road to Russia lies in the next two World Cup qualifiers for Jamaica, with defeat in San Jose not ending their dreams of making it to the finals in 2018.
Written by Neil-Monticelli Harley-Rüdd, The Voice