Trinidad and Tobago’s boys Under-17 football coach Shawn Cooper is currently overseeing preparation of the national team for the Caribbean Football Union leg of World Cup qualification next month. The 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup will be held in Chile.
Twenty-four teams will take part, including four from CONCACAF. Twenty teams will compete in the Caribbean’s first round of qualifiers, hosted by Bahamas, Bermuda, Martinique and Puerto Rico.
Cooper, who guided this country towards within one victory of qualifying for the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, has a squad of 40 players in weekly training at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Many of the players are drawn from the under-15 national team that participated at the Tournament of the Americas, in Cali, Colombia, last year, along with a few other Cooper has added.
“We started earlier this month at the Queen’s Park Savannah because the stadiums were not available, but we’re back to training at Ato Boldon from next week,” Cooper said. “So far, we’ve looked at several players from the TT youth pro league and we continue to look at the available talent. The majority of the squad have been together at the national level before and the experience of the last under 15 team in Colombia should serve some good, as we look ahead to the next tournament in July.”
Cooper’s main concern presently is the fitness level of the players. “Technically, we are pretty okay but we are lacking physical and tactical awareness. I had hoped that these players would be fitter at this time of the year. Football now is year round.
‘’There are some skillful players in the mix and some good, strong, defenders and midfielders, but we now have to get them playing as a unit as quickly as we can. I think that a few more solid sessions should have us in a decent enough position for the first round,” he ended.