Thu, Dec

Under 17s aim high at CONCACAF Championship.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 17 Men’s team will be aiming to top Group E when they face Mexico in their final group phase match at the CONCACAF Under 17 Championship from 4pm on Sunday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

Jaiye Sheppard scored twice to guide T&TT to a hard-fought 3-2 win over Jamaica yesterday for their second straight win in Group E of the Concacaf Under-17 Championship, at the IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida, United States.

Jamaica opened the scoring in the 17th minute through Cristojaye Daley, who collected a cross from the right and slotted home past TT goalkeeper Isaiah Williams.

But T&T replied in the 34th when Sheppard, on the left, went full stretch to meet a right-sided cross and finished from close range.

Striker Justin Araujo-Wilson put T&T in front ten minutes later, taking advantage of Jamaica’s inability to clear the ball from the danger area. The ball fell perfectly to Araujo-Wilson around the penalty spot and he side-footed into the net past goalie Shamar Haffenden. Sheppard got T&T’s third in the 60th with a header, after a teasing right-sided cross into the penalty box.

Jamaica’s Dandre Miller was sent off in the 85th for his second bookable offence, but his team pulled one back in stoppage time, courtesy of a right-footed shot from Isaac Scott.

The performance brought a deserving win for the Stern John-coached outfit which secured its place in the second round knockout phase following a 3-1 win over Bermuda in its opener on Wednesday.

“I’m delighted for the boys. I spoke to them about the importance of this match and the fact that it is the biggest Caribbean derby and they went out there and demonstrated exactly how they felt about it. They followed my instructions an stuck to the plan. I think they had a bit of a score to settle as well from a previous match a couple of years ago,: John told TTFA Media.

“Now we have showed that we came here to compete because I don’t think anyone gave us a chance coming into this tournament. Now we’ve proven them wrong and I’m backing my boys to keep their heads high and continue playing good football. It’s still a far way off in terms of qualifying for Brazil but I will give them credit for pulling off two wins and showing that they are no pushovers,” John added.

“These boys worked their socks off. They’ve come into the tournament and given ourselves a chance. I told them that this was a derby and that back in the day when we used to play Jamaica couldn’t compete with us and that it was about time Trinidad and Tobago got back onto the map. They competed with the Jamaicans, stood up to the challenge and came out victorious. I think it’s a credit to the boys, their belief and what we’ve been doing for the last couple weeks,

“I haven’t met a bunch of boys who are more honest. They are willing to work hard for the cause and stick together as a team no matter what. We went down 1-0 to Jamaica and I think for me, I’d probably hold my hands up. We gave them too much credit or respect in the first half. We dropped off and let them play in front of us. But we realised we had to change the system and go back to our normal way of playing and we matched them in every department. We got ourselves back into the game and I think we dominated the game from then on,” John added.

Goalscorer Sheppard was obviously thrilled with his performance and the victory.

“I think the boys played a fantastic game although we didn’t got off to the best of start. We really dug deep and fought with everything we had. It was also a great feeling to get on the scoresheet, not once but twice, knowing that coach John encouraged and demanded us to be brave and to express ourselves throughout the game. Now that we have secured a place in the second round, we would just like to continue building momentum and improving our game. I believe that we can do great things as long as we remain focus and continue to listen to our coaching staff,” Sheppard told TTFA Media.

Araujo-Wilson who now has three goals in two matches, spoke about his goal celebrations against Jamaica where he ran to the byline to embrace John and assistant Kenwyne Jones.

“That celebration was just because through a lot of the hard times I was having in the preparation for the tour they never gave up on me, they always pushed me to work harder and those are my idols. They inspire me to be a better footballer and to keep working hard so i just felt that scoring that goal to bring us back into the game against Jamaica I had to pay homage Trinidad and Tobago and the legends who worked hard for the team previously,” Araujo-Wilson told TTFA Media.

“Coach drilled into our heads that once we do what we did in practice we would get the result so it was just to stay disciplined. But in the Jamaica game we overestimated the team hence we started in a more defensive position and then we saw we could match them and we were good enough. We went back into a regular formation which created more attacking opportunities causing us to score more goals.

“Overall we just played well together. We gelled well together, the defence and midfield did their part and the forwards did their part. It was just another well fought victory and hopefully we can come out against Mexico and work even harder with more determination, more disciplined and show them that we are not just a Caribbean team that can’t play football because we can.”

Team Captain Zachary Welch’s Post-Win comments

“Well firstly Jamaica vs Trinidad and Tobago is a derby as we are Caribbean rivals so we knew it was going to be a challenge and as we failed to beat them last time we are very proud and enthusiastic about this victory and as being captain I tried my best to lead the team alongside the coaches and it paid off.

“The mindset going into the game was to work as hard as we can and try to come out with the best result we could as we knew we are capable of beating Jamaica as we did. Coach stern wanted to switch up the tactics to a more defensive one to try and overcome Jamaica but as he realized we were matching them up everywhere around the field, he switched to a more attacking approach and we scored three consecutive goals.

“We knew that after halftime Jamaica were gonna come with full force and we were prepared as we were leading at the break but we knew we couldn’t take our foot off the peddle and we stuck at it and outplayed Jamaica. The coaches warned us to not get to complacent and throw away the game and told us to raise the intensity for the second half and as the coaches and players encouraged everyone we stuck at it, played as a team and held off Jamaica.”