Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer (pictured) answers questions from the media during a press conference on July 25, 2015, at Lincoln Field Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Mexsport)
PHILADELPHIA -- Jamaica head coach Winfried Schafer did not mince any words as to whom he thinks should win the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"Nobody deserves it more than my team," he said Saturday at press conference. "What we are doing is hard work. We want more. We want the cup."
The undefeated Reggae Boyz (2015 Gold Cup record: 4W-1D-0L), the first-ever Caribbean team to reach the tournament’s final, will get an opportunity to back up those words when they battle six-time champion Mexico for the title at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
"No one has given this team a shot for this tournament," remarked Schafer. "I hope we can play after the match after Sunday."
Schafer was referring to the October playoff that will pit the 2015 winner against the 2013 champion United States for the right to represent CONCACAF in the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup.
For the second consecutive match, the Jamaicans find themselves as underdogs. They surprised the U.S. in the semifinals, 2-1.
The German-born Schafer felt the onus was on Mexico to win.
"Mexico has all the pressure to clinch it," he noted. “Mexico, for me, is No. 5 in the world” having played at a “very, very high level."
Schafer felt that the Jamaicans could win the Gold Cup while it was playing in last month’s Copa America, a competition in which they suffered three narrow 1-0 losses to Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina.
"It was clear that we can win the Gold Cup and nobody [picked] us," continued the 65-year-old. "What we needed was winning a mentality.”
The Jamaicans' success could spur a football boom on the island that has a population of 2.7 million.
"Not only do we win the final, football, I hope now the kids have idols like [Lionel] Messi, Ronaldo," said Schafer, who rattled the names of his own standouts such as Rodolph Austin, Adrian Mariappa and Giles Barnes, among others.
"The future is the talent, the young players. They play football in the street,” he finished. “The next step is maybe under-17, under-23. Jamaica is a country that everybody is proud about."
If the Jamaicans win Sunday, that level of pride will burst to an even greater degree.