Jamaica To Face Big Guns In Chile
Jamaica To Face Big Guns In Chile
Rejunivated after capturing the Caribbean Cup last week, Jamaica were given a difficult draw in the 2015 Copa America that will be played next June and July in Chile.
The Reggae Boyz, who saw off rivals Trinidad & Tobago at Montego Bay to claim bragging rights in the region by winning silverware, were invited along with Mexico to compete with 10 CONMEBOL nations for South America's showpiece tournament.
But Jamaica's debut will be a daunting task but it could have been a lot tougher. They have been drawn in the same group as top seed Argentina, 15-time winners Uruguay, and Paraguay.
Argentina finished runners up to Germany in the summer's World Cup final and surprisingly have not triumphed at the Copa America tournament since 1993. However, manager Gerardo Martino will be expecting to guide 'The Albiceleste' through the group with all eyes focused on the talents of four time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi of Barcelona.
Luis Suarez, Messi's team-mate at Barcelona, is currently banned from playing on the international scene — following his biting incident during the World Cup finals — but defending champions Uruguay remain hopeful that their star player will return soon with on-going negotiations with FIFA over his nine-match ban.
However, Uruguay have hit top form since their 2014 World Cup exit and are on an unbeaten run of six games.
Seeded Brazil, who were humbled 7-1 by Germany in their World Cup semi-final, have been drawn against Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
Hosts Chile — who have never won the tournament — will tackle Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico. They will kick-off the Copa America on June 11 against Ecuador in Santiago.
The top two teams in each groups will advance to the competition's quarter-finals, along with the best two third-place finishers, leaving only six sides to fall by the wayside.
The 12-nation tournament will be played in the eight host cities of Antofagasta, Concepcion, La Serena, Rancagua, Santiago, Temuco, Valparaiso and Vina del March.
Jamaica face Uruguay on 13 June, Paraguay three days later and conclude their round robin games by tackling Argentina on 20 June.
Prior to Jamaica's Caribbean Cup success, which saw them keep three clean sheets on the bounce, the Reggae Boyz would have been seen as the whipping boys at the prestigious Copa America. However, with a new found confidence and having gelled as a squad who controls games with attractive attacking play then the Boyz could make an impact.
If coach Winfried Schäfer can maintain his Boyz to produce the same sublime performances, stay dogged in defence, creative in midfield and continue to score goals then not only will Jamaica be back to their best but their leading players will be wanted by top teams across Europe.
The foundations have been laid with Schäfer sealing his first silverware with Jamaica with the scene set for a potentially lucrative tournament in Chile.
But will the Boyz still be red hot in the cauldron against the talents of South American sides? A new era dawns under Schäfer, with fans suddenly returning to support their side. Hopefully those who turned down corporate sponsorship of Jamaica for the Caribbean Cup are kicking themselves for not believing in the Boyz, who have now increased in value to both the fans and football on the global map.