Jamaica is the Caribbean Cup soccer champions for a sixth time after outlasting Trinidad & Tobago 4-3 on penalty kicks last week in Montego Bay.
With just two local players in their lineup, the Jamaicans regained the crown they last held in 2010 after defeating Martinique on penalty kicks.
“I am very proud of this team,” said head coach, Winfried Schaefer. “I have won the African Cup, the Caribbean Cup and the Dubai Cup. This is a team with very good spirit, big discipline and very strong and today was the highlight of it. I hope everybody knows now what is possible in Jamaica when we have good preparation, when we have good time with our team and good service for our team. Only then we can make success. The aim of the team was to win the tournament and the players went over the limit despite their many problems and fatigue and they did everything to win the Cup.”
Stephen Hart, the coach of the T & T side, which fielded just one local player in the championship game, said the standard of the tournament was high.
“I thought the tournament was excellent,” said Hart, who was fired as Canada’s coach in October 2012 after posting 20 wins in 45 matches, which ranks second in wins and first in win percentage among former Canadian coaches. “Almost every country got the players that they wanted back.”
With Hart at the helm since June 2013, T & T has climbed 30 spots in the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) ranking and reached the Gold Cup final quarter-final for the first time in 13 years.
“We have done well in some games, but we haven’t played in enough games to sort of be consistent in what we do,” said Hart.
In the eight-team Caribbean Cup finals, the Jamaicans finished on top of its group by shutting out Antigua & Barbuda 3-0, Haiti 2-0 and drawing 1-1 with Martinique.
Trinidad & Tobago advanced to the championship game with 3-2 and 4-2 victories over Curacao and French Guiana, respectively, and a nil-draw with Cuba.
Jamaican central midfielder and captain, Rodolph Austin, who plays for Leeds United in the English Premier championship, was the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for a second time, having won the award four years ago.
Andre Blake, who represents Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer, was the tournament’s top goalkeeper while Haiti, which beat Cuba 2-1 in the third-place match, captured the Fair Play Award.
Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti and Cuba secured automatic qualifications for the 2015 Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) Gold Cup tournament. The Jamaicans also booked their place in the 16-team Copa America Centenario competition, to be held in the United States in 2016.
A celebration of the South American Soccer Federation (CONMEBOL) and the Copa America – the tournament contested between the men’s soccer teams of South America – the Centenario will be the first Copa America hosted outside of that region.