Trinidad and Tobago’s under 17 footballers will be aiming to claim a spot in the quarter finals of the CONCACAF Under 17 Championship when they face off with Honduras in the Round of Sixteen at IMG Academy in Bradenton from 3pm on Wednesday.
Through the knockout phase after securing two wins in the their three Group E matches to finish second behind Mexico, the Stern John-coached unit will face a Honduras side that lost its previous game 2-1 to El Salvador to end third in Group G. Honduras’ only win was a 3-0 shut out of Guyana while to lost their opening game 2-0 to group winners Haiti.
John is expected to use a full-strength starting team after resting a few key players in the 5-0 loss to Mexico, knowing fully well that a quarter final place is at stake.
“This is a very important match for us. Every game from here on is like a final and I think the boys are fully aware of it and they are very much up for the challenge,” John told TTFA Media on Tuesday.
“We had them off their legs for a bit on Monday after three matches in five days which is never easy but today we were back at it, getting ready for this huge encounter. I think our boys have grown in every game throughout this tournament and the belief is there that we can do this. We are virtually two wins away from qualifying for the World Cup but we’ll take it one game at a time starting with Honduras tomorrow,” John added.
“Honduras are not going to be easy by any means. They play the typical Central American way and we will have to be mindful of their style but our boys are also confident in their ability and their willingness to work their socks off for each other especially when the going gets tough out there.,” John stated. “It will come down to who wants it more.”
Team skipper Zachary Welch remained confident heading into the fixture.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work and really played our hearts out in the group stage to get to the knockout out when I think a lot of people were not taking us seriously. We achieved our first objective which was to qualify for the second round and now we have to take care of the next bit of business and that is to win and move on to the quarter finals. Once we get there anything is possible but first we have to get there. We feel good about our chances and it’s time to make things count again,” Welch said.
El Salvador will face Jamaica to get things started on Wednesday, with El Salvador’s Saul Emerson among the players to watch. The Cuscatleco forward scored four goals during the group stage in helping El Salvador to a second-place finish in Group G.
Haiti was very impressive in its group stage campaign by posting three wins with 12 goals scored and just one conceded. They face the Dominican Republic, which was one of the four teams to qualify directly to the Knockout stage from the qualifiers in March.
Action will continue on Thursday with the other four pairings, beginning with a Panama side that posted eight goals in the group stage against Guatemala.
That will be followed by Costa Rica taking on Nicaragua, with Ticos FW and U17 leading scorer Geancarlo Castro in the spotlight after scoring six goals in the group stage.
Capping the day with be a pair of Caribbean sides looking to upend two North American stalwarts, with Canada squaring off against Curacao and the United States facing Guadeloupe.
Fans can watch the matches on Concacafgo.com or Flow Sports 1.