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Wed, Jul

U-17's tackle Bermuda in Concacaf opener.
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T&T will kick off its cam­paign in the Con­ca­caf Un­der-17 Men's Cham­pi­on­ships Group E Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Tour­na­ment against Bermu­da at the IMG Acad­e­my in Braden­ton, Flori­da from 4 pm to­day.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Mex­i­co and Ja­maica will face off in the sec­ond Group E match two hours lat­er.

Si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly, at the same venue, Bar­ba­dos, Cana­da, Guatemala and USA will do bat­tle in Group F; El Sal­vador, Guyana, Haiti and Hon­duras com­pete in Group G, and Cos­ta Ri­ca, Cu­ra­cao, Pana­ma and Suri­name face off in Group H.

So far the quar­tet of Nicaragua (Group A), Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic (Group B), Guade­loupe (Group C), and Puer­to Ri­co (Group D) have ad­vanced from the qual­i­fiers draw as group win­ners to the last-16 and will be joined by the 12 qual­i­fiers from Flori­da in the knock­out stage.

The top four teams at the end of the Con­ca­caf com­pe­ti­tion will qual­i­fy for the 2019 FI­FA Un­der-17 World Cup in Brazil.

The team led by for­mer World Cup play­ers in Stern John as head coach and as­sis­tant Ken­wyne Jones, have been prepar­ing team for the past few weeks and will go in­to to­day's first-ever meet­ing be­tween both coun­tries brim­ming with con­fi­dence ahead of its re­main­ing match­es ver­sus Ja­maica on May 3rd and Mex­i­co two days lat­er, at the end of which the top three teams will ad­vance to the knock­out stage.

John and 17 of his play­ers trav­elled to Flori­do, USA on Mon­day night and were met by three USA-based play­ers in Jer­rel Nixon, Ajani For­tune and Cur­tis De Leon and the T&T coach was ex­pect­ed to have a fi­nal ses­sion yes­ter­day af­ter­noon ahead of to­day's match.

Speak­ing on the eve of the match, John, T&T's all-time lead­ing goalscor­er, said he would be seek­ing three points from the on­set.

“We are here to com­pete and we’ve spo­ken about this as a team. That means we have three points to get in this open­ing game to give our­selves some breath­ing space for the re­main­ing match­es in the group,” John said.

“We’ve pre­pared as best as we can and now it’s down to the boys to ex­e­cute. It’s up to them now as we can­not play from the bench. What we will do is guide them as best as we can. I am con­fi­dent in their abil­i­ty. I think the key will be to set­tle ear­ly be­cause there will be some nerves at the start and that’s ex­pect­ed be­cause it’s a first time for a lot of the boys. Once we put our heads down and play to our abil­i­ty then we should be pulling off a re­sult to give us a good head start,” John added.

For­ward Justin Arau­jo-Wil­son is ea­ger to put in a shift that will hope­ful­ly get T&T off on a right start.

“The prepa­ra­tion was very or­gan­ised and well done to coach Stern and coach Ken­wyne for bring­ing the boys to­geth­er and push­ing us hard to pre­pare for this tour­na­ment. We have to come out and work hard and win games for our­selves, our fam­i­lies and the coun­try. Do­ing well in this kind of tour­na­ments can save our lives,” said Arau­jo-Wil­son.

“It’s manda­to­ry for us to get three points. We know what we can do but we have to have some­thing to show for it. I just like wear­ing the Red, White and Black be­cause grow­ing up watch­ing the So­ca War­riors play was good and now it’s a dream come true to play for the na­tion­al team, he added.

To­day's match will be the 50th Con­ca­caf Un­der-17 match for T&T, with its record stand­ing at 12 wins, 13 draws, and 24 de­feats, scor­ing 60 goals, with 103 against, for a win­ning per­cent­age of 33.3.

Bermu­da, mean­while, will be play­ing on­ly its third CON­CA­CAF Un­der-17 match, and has a record of two de­feats from as many out­ings, scor­ing once and con­ced­ing 13.

The 2019 Con­ca­caf Un­der-17 Cham­pi­on­ship is the sixth edi­tion of the Con­ca­caf Un­der-17 Cham­pi­on­ship (19th edi­tion if all eras in­clud­ed), the men’s un­der-17 in­ter­na­tion­al foot­ball tour­na­ment or­ga­nized by Con­ca­caf.

On Fri­day

Ja­maica vs T&T, 4pm

Bermu­da vs Mex­i­co, 6pm

On Sun­day

T&T vs Mex­i­co, 4pm

Bermu­da vs Ja­maica, 6pm

RELATED NEWS

Coach Stern: We have three points to get.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).


T&T start Concacaf U-17 campaign today vs Bermuda…

T&T Under-17 men’s football team will be looking for a winning start to their 2019 Concacaf Under-17 Championship campaign when they face off with Bermuda in their opening fixture today, from 4 pm, at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, United States.

Team coach Stern John said, “We are here to compete and we’ve spoken about this as a team. That means we have three points to get in this opening game to give ourselves some breathing space for the remaining matches in the group.”

John, who is also an assistant coach on the T&T men’s team, continued, “We’ve prepared as best as we can and now it’s down to the boys to execute. It’s up to them now as we cannot play from the bench. What we will do is guide them as best as we can.

“I am confident in their abilities. I think the key will be to settle early because there will be some nerves at the start and that’s expected because it’s a first time for a lot of the boys. Once we put our heads down and play to our ability then we should be pulling off a result to give us a good head start,” John added.

Canadian-based forward Justin Araujo-Wilson said, “The preparation was very organised and well done to coach Stern and (assistant) coach Kenwyne for bringing the boys together and pushing us hard to prepare for this tournament.

We have to come out and work hard and win games for ourselves, our families and the country. Doing well in these kind of tournaments can save our lives.”

The other group opponents Mexico and Jamaica will square off in the second match of the double-header while other matches on the day includes El Salvador versus Guyana and Honduras versus Haiti.

The top four teams from the competition will qualify for the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil, which is scheduled from September 17 to October 8.

The Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) has offered their support towards the team, particularly players who are still involved in the local schools league.

In a media release yesterday, SSFL president William Wallace said, “You all have an opportunity to pave your way towards further success and to write your own history. Go out there and give of your best for the country and represent your country, the league and your schools with honour and pride.

“Be a source of inspiration for your younger peers who will be looking to follow in your footsteps in the 2019 SSFL season and beyond. You have an opportunity to compete and showcase your ability at the Confederation’s biggest event in your age group and the chance to test yourselves against some of the region’s best teams. Make the best of it,” Wallace added.

SPORTT pays for T&T U-17s to sit CSEC exams in Florida; Stern: Time to execute.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).


The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Under-17 Team have precious little time to soak in the atmosphere in Bradenton, Florida. The junior Soca Warriors landed in Florida last night and, by tomorrow evening, they will already be in ‘do or die’ territory when they tackle Bermuda from 4pm at the IMG Academy in the Concacaf Under-17 Championship.

Three from the four teams in Group E advance to the knockout round but Trinidad and Tobago’s other two opponents are Jamaica and Mexico. It cannot be overstated how important it is for the Warriors to start with a positive result.

“We are here to compete and we’ve spoken about this as a team,” National Under-17 Team head coach Stern John told the TTFA Media. “That means we have three points to get in this opening game [against Bermuda] to give ourselves some breathing space for the remaining matches in the group.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), plagued by financial woes and administrative paralysis, considered not sending this squad to the Concacaf Championship in the first place.

Privately, TTFA president David John-Williams floated the idea of withdrawing from the competition, which serves as a qualifying series for the Brazil 2019 Under-17 World Cup. And there was a suggestion that the local football body might send its Under-15 Boys Team—the only one of the TTFA’s nine potential teams that trains all year round—to participate in the higher age group for ‘experience.’

In the end, though, the John-Williams-led administration appointed John to spearhead their campaign with barely six weeks to screen, select and prepare a team for competition at the highest level in the confederation. The key selling point for the hiring of John and his staff was that they were prepared to work for free.

“The TTFA didn’t so much as buy a bun for the players!” one parent told Wired868, on condition of anonymity.

It left well wishers to pick up the financial slack. Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, whose son, Gary Griffith III, was selected in the final 20-man squad, figured prominently among the parents who contributed to meals and transport for the players.

The Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago also took care of not only airfare for the National Under-17 Team but meals at the airport and, crucially, airfare, accommodation and related costs for two examiners who will travel to Florida this weekend to oversee the players’ CSEC tests.

CSEC exams start on 7 May and roughly a dozen players are due to sit. It means precise arrangements to ensure the boys take exams at precisely the same time as the rest of the country and that the process is above reproach with sealed papers and proper supervision.

Normally, even if the Ministry of Education agrees to assist—with the permission of the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC)—the organisation making the request for examiners must meet the full cost of the exercise. But, with the TTFA’s accounts frozen due to its failure to meet its debt to the National Futsal Team, SPORTT has stepped in the breach.

“The TTFA came with the request and the budget,” said SPORTT executive manager sport development Anthony Creed. “My job was to go to the board to ensure that everything was in order; and the approval was given so it is only a matter of waiting for the release [of funds].

“[…] We also budgeted to ensure the players were able to get a meal at the airport when they got to Florida so they would not be disadvantaged.”

Creed’s nephew, Brendon Creed, was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Under-17 Team that got to the quarterfinal stage of the Concacaf Championship in 2013. It is as well as the Warriors have fared since 2007 when a Kevin Molino item ensured the twin island republic of a 1-0 win over Jamaica and a place at the Korea Republic 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

John hopes to somehow steer his undercooked squad to similar heights.

“We’ve prepared as best as we can and now it’s down to the boys to execute,” said John, a former 2006 World Cup forward and Trinidad and Tobago’s all-time record goal scorer. “It’s up to them now as we cannot play from the bench. What we will do is guide them as best as we can. I am confident in their ability.

“I think the key will be to settle early because there will be some nerves at the start and that’s expected because it’s a first time for a lot of the boys. Once we put our heads down and play to our ability then we should be pulling off a result to give us a good head start.”

The National Under-17 Team should expect much from former Fatima College stand-out Justin Araujo-Wilson and Trinity College East goalkeeper Kahlil Oliver as well as overseas-based inclusions like midfielders Ajani Fortune (Atlanta United—USA) and Tyrese Pierre (WSV Apeldoorn—Netherlands), full back Isa Sayeed (Indy Premier Soccer—USA) and Jerrell Nixon (Concorde Fire Soccer Club—USA).

Sayeed and Nixon are the sons of John and Jerren Nixon, a former Under-20 World Cup forward, respectively.

Araujo-Wilson told the TTFA Media that he is thrilled at the chance to make some history for himself.

“The preparation was very organised and well done to coach Stern [John] and coach Kenwyne [Jones] for bringing the boys together and pushing us hard to prepare for this tournament,” said Araujo-Wilson. “We have to come out and work hard and win games for ourselves, our families and the country.

“[…] It’s mandatory for us to get three points; [and] we know what we can do. I just like wearing the Red,White and Black because growing up watching the Soca Warriors play was good and now it’s a dream come true to play for the National Team.”