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Reggae Boyz in need of dramatic improvement

ON THE ATTACK: Reggae Boy Giles Barnes

UNDER PRESSURE Winfried Schäfer has pinned his hopes on 31-year-old hitman Claydon Donaldson to add some much-needed firepower for back-to-back World Cup qualifiers.

The Jamaica head coach needs to dramatically improve his side's ability to score goals following recent feeble outings, where they scraped past central America minnows Nicaragua and were totally outclassed in last month's friendly in South Korea.

And the unforgiving fans who visit Kingston's National Football Stadium on November 13 will be expecting a positive result and to be able to roar on the Boyz for goals when defensive-minded Panama visit.

However, Schäfer has been banned for this crucial World Cup Qualifiers against Panama, after he was found guilty of unsporting behaviour against a match official in September's tie in Nicaragua. The German appealed FIFA ruling and has had his two-match ban reduced to one game.

Bradford-born Donaldson will be eager to try to emulate Marlon King, another Jamaica hot-shot who played for Birmingham City, and is expected to be part of a three-pronged attacking line-up spearheaded by Giles Barnes and the tricky Darren Mattocks.

He has bagged four goals from 14 games in the English Championship with Birmingham City this term, and played for England at non-league level in 2005.

Yet the 31-year-old pledged his international allegiance to Jamaica in April, and was granted international clearance in July to represent the Caribbean island through his grandfather's heritage.

Schäfer is adamant about scoring goals and blasted: “Attack is the best form of defence for us, we don’t want to just stay behind the ball and defend.”

Despite Schäfer's cries for goals, Jamaica enter this month's World Cup Qualifying group games having notched just one triumph in four games and appear to be stuck in a confidence crisis. Hence the first call-up for Donaldson to add some steel following woeful recent displays by the Boyz to create goalscoring opportunities.

Panama are also in a bit of a crisis but believe that their disappoint of their 2014 World Cup Qualifying will push them on to the finals in Russia.

Their last World Cup campaign ended in tears, just 90 seconds away from progressing only to be defeated during stoppage time by the United States to narrowly miss out on advancing to the play-offs against New Zealand.

In July's Gold Cup competition they suffered just two defeats, an extra-time reversal to eventual champions Mexico and were ousted of the tournament on penalties against their nemesis, USA.

Since their disappointment at the Gold Cup in Chile, Los Canaleros ('the Canal Men') have stuttered during four friendlies and scored just twice. Defeats at the hands of Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico have signalled that the team world ranked no65 is not in as strong a position as they envisaged although some experimental squad changes were made.

Under manager Hernan Darlo Gomez, a former Colombia international, the last time that Panama won during 90 minutes was against Costa Rica in March's friendly at Panama City.

So with neither side brimming with confidence nor the ability to score goals the match in Kingston points to a dull draw, but the joy of football – and indeed sport – is to expect the unexpected. Home advantage for the Boyz should tilt the tie towards Schäfer's men, and two more players are set to be named in the squad to tackle Panama and Haiti.

JAMAICA SQUAD (21 of 23, two more players set to be named):
Goalkeepers – Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union), Duwayne Kerr (Sarpsborg, Norway), Ryan Thompson (Pittsburgh Riverhounds)
Defenders – Shaun Cummings (Millwall), Michael Hector (Chelsea), Rosario 'Rossi' Harriott (Harbour View FC), Lance Laing (FC Edmonton), Kemar Lawrence (New York Red Bulls), Adrian Mariappa (Crystal Palace), Alvas Powell (Portland Timbers), Ladale Richie (Montego Bay United), Cordell Simpson (Montego Bay United)
Midfielders – Rodolph Austin (Unattached), Garath McCleary (Reading), Jobi McNuff (Leyton Orient), Demar Phillips (Real Salt Lake), Lee Williamson (Blackburn Rovers), Je-Vaughn Watson (FC Dallas)
Forwards – Giles Barnes (Houston Dynamo), Deshorn Brown (Valerenga, Norway), Simon Dawkins (Derby County), Clayton Donaldson (Birmingham City), Darren Mattocks (Vancouver Whitecaps), Alan Ottey (Montego Bay United)

Qualifying 4th Round (Round-Robin)
Jamaica's home matches – Panama (13 November), Costa Rica (25 March 2016), Haiti (6 September 2016)
Jamaica's away matches – Haiti (17 November), Costa Rica (29 March 2016), Panama (2 September 2016)

Group A: Canada, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico
Group B: Costa Rica, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama
Group C: Guatemala, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, USA

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