Sunday, January 21, 2018

T&T U-20s to battle Guadeloupe


FINE TUNING: National Under-20 footballers at a training session ahead of CFU qualifiers.

Mark Fraser

A decision has been taken by the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association (TTFA) to give the National Under-20 footballers a high-calibre friendly international warm-up match against the Guadeloupe senior team before they begin World Cup qualifying.

Trinidad & Tobago Under-20 men will now take on Guadeloupe in Tobago at the Dwight Yorke Stadium at 4 p.m. next Saturday. Two days earlier, the French-speaking Caribbean visitors begin their tour against a Tobago XI, made up of Super League players at the same venue.  

The Under 20s will, in two weeks, from September 10 -19, host the eight-team Caribbean final round of qualifiers for the 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The T&T tournament is the official qualifier in the Caribbean Zone for both the CONCACAF Men’s U-20 Championship and the FIFA Men’s U-20 World Cup.  

Initially, Guadeloupe,  preparing for the senior men’s Caribbean Cup qualifiers, had scheduled a visit to T&T to play the men’s senior team. However, after discussions between T&T head-coach Stephen Hart and the TTFA, it was felt the opportunity to play would better serve the Under 20s, which has not played an international game during its preparations this year.

Hart will instead assemble his squad in late September for a live-in training camp before T&T host a Caribbean Cup semi-final round group qualifier in October. T&T Under 20 men’s head coach Derek King, who is also an assistant coach with the senior men’s team, feels that Guadeloupe will provide the perfect test for the youngsters.

“The game comes at an ideal time for us and will be a great test for the young men,” head-coach King said. Host T&T will kick off the Caribbean finals against Curacao on September 12, then face Suriname on September 14 and Cuba on September 16. 

The other group consists of Dominican Republic, Haiti, St Kitts/Nevis and Aruba. The top four Caribbean teams qualify for the CONCACAF finals, which will be held in Jamaica in January 2015, and determines the region’s teams which will participate at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras are already through to the CONCACAF Round.

“We’ve been in training for a few weeks well and we’ve had the opportunity to play against some of the pro teams, as well as the national Under 17 team. ‘’The boys have progressed quite well and every player is now eager to go into the tournament and give of his best and go on to qualify for the CONCACAF finals,” said King, after his team defeated St Ann’s Rangers 4-0 in a training match at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, yesterday. T&T got goals from US-based midfielder Andre Fortune, Matthew Woo Ling, Nicholas Dillon and Kadeem Corbin.