Panama’s National Under 15 head coach Jorge Santos is looking forward to the upcoming TTFA Youth Invitational tournament with keen interest as he seeks to get his side ready for the 2019 CONCACAF U15 boys Championship in August.
Santos, who will arrive with his squad in the country next week for the July 17th-21st tournament which involves T&T, Mexico and Venezuela, said he was delighted upon hearing about the invitation extended by the TTFA and the subsequent acceptance by the Panamanian football federation.
“It’s a great tournament and opportunity for us to travel and play against some quality opponents like Mexico, Venezuela and the host country,” Santos told TTFA Media via a translator.
Santos and his coaching partners spent a month visiting the different districts identifying players in May and have been together as a group in training for roughly one month.
“These matches in Trinidad will serve to see how our team is compared to other teams in the region. It will be very beneficial for our players because it is the first time will be playing as a national team,” Santos said.
“Playing in Trinidad and Tobago before going to Florida will help us put into practice what we have been practicing with the players over the past few weeks.”
Santos pinpointed the type of challenge he expects in the upcoming matches.
“Facing Mexico is important because they are a well-worked team technically. To play against Trinidad and Tobago is to play against physically well-gifted players that will demand a lot out of our players and Venezuela will give us a chance against a South-American opponent with a different style to ours.”
Santos has a squad of thirty players in training and will cut his squad to eighteen before traveling to Port of Spain next week.
Like the TTFA, the Panama FA is focusing on this current pool of players as their new generation as they prepare for not just the U-15 championship in August but the next Under 17 and Under 20 World Cup qualifying cycles which will lead into the Senior Team era. Panama has qualified for two FIFA Under 17 Men’s World Cups and six Under 20 World Cups in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2011,2015 and 2019.
T&T will face Panama in the second game of the opening double header on July 17th at the Ato Boldon Stadium from 7:15pm. Mexico and Venezuela will square off from 5:15pm.
Fans can purchase their tickets at all NLCB Lotto outlets priced at $40 with tournament passes priced at $100.
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