So as Jamaica clings to the mathematical possibility of still making it to the FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year, we are left to wonder what if.
What if JFF President Captain Horace Burrell, the man who has presided over his second consecutive failed World Cup campaign since he re-assumed the role of president in November 2007, had seen it necessary to keep assistant coach Bradley Stewart who was inexplicably relieved of his duties after he helped Jamaica to it’s best ever CONCACAF Gold Cup performance in 2011?
During that campaign Stewart, who everyone knew was the real maestro behind the kind of football Jamaica played that year, helped shape a team that played with flair and confidence in defeating, Grenada, Guatemala and Honduras before tripping up against the United States in the second round of the competition. It was a team that seemed to have many of the right players playing in the correct positions and what resulted was smooth freely flowing tikka-takka football that was laying the foundation for greater things, three years out from Brazil 2014.
The Boyz advanced to the second round without conceding a goal and was the only team to advance with a clean sheet. They Boyz also advanced with maximum points from the group stage, was winning the group for the first time since 1998, when it qualified for the World Cup. Whitmore who was in the infancy of his coaching tenure at that time, could really not take all the credit.
What if a more experienced coaching team had been brought in in time to guide the team? Whitmore and Montesso clearly lacked an understanding of how to get the team to advance the ball with numbers. What we saw since the Stewart’s departure was a team that clearly lacked an understanding of the game plan, whatever it was. We also saw a team that was nowhere near as cohesive as it should be. The back line plays too far from the midfield that plays way too far from the lone striker tasked with the impossible of trying to take on four or five of the opponents’ defenders. The irony is there was actual surprise that the team was unable to score and blame was laid squarely at the feet of Ryan Johnson. It tells you how much we really understand about how a football team is supposed to work.
Since the arrival of Winfried Schafer, we have seen a team that is more cohesive, attacking in greater numbers and relying less on longer passes to get the ball forward. The team has looked more dangerous and more likely to score than in any of the matches before he took over. What if he had been brought in earlier and what if he had been given a chance to see the team play some practice matches and got to know his players better sooner?
The say hindsight is 20/20 but for too long we have been left wondering what could have or what should have happened had we done this or done that. Maybe it’s time we started with the concept of looking ahead about what we need to do to achieve success and then go about executing a proper plan that will see us achieving our goals. Had we done that perhaps it would not be wondering if Mexico and Panama could possibly get only a single point from their next two games while we try to beat perhaps the two toughest opponents – Honduras and the United States – to even have a chance of going to Brazil next year.