National Under-17 football coach Stern John has credited his players for the hard work and effort given at the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship in, Florida, USA despite being booted out after a 4-1 loss to Honduras in the round of 16 on Wednesday.
In a post-match interview, the former T&T striker now turns coach, said he believes the players have left the tournament with more experience, knowledge and with a better understanding of the game. As such John has called for the team to be kept together for future tournaments, as he believes the players were willing to go out there and die for the cause.
"The game was a very difficult one for us, I think we weathered the storm in the first half, we got a soft penalty and the keeper saved it. The game was evenly matched in the first half but in the second half, we came out lacking concentration. We conceded an early goal but we managed to get ourselves back in the game. A couple of minutes later we conceded again and we never got time to settle, as we were just chasing the game. But credit to the boys they worked their socks off, coming in as boys and leaving as men because they understand how international football is played now, and what is expected of them to compete at this level."
John believes the difference in lifestyles between our players and their opposition contributed tremendously to the result of the match. "It was not easy. Most of the players they played against in the tournament, play with pro league teams or are assigned to professional teams, while most of our boys play Secondary School football. It's a massive gap, but I thought the boys did really well and they should be proud."
The T&T team had just a month to prepare under John after the previous coach Russell Latapy withheld his services because of unpaid wages. However, John and his staff which included Kenwyne Jones, the former T&T striker, agreed to work for free and had very little time to prepare the team.
Yesterday John said he was happy with the work done in the short time they had. "In a short space of time, we did not bad in the tournament, we managed to qualify for the second round and we were not together for a long time, so you can imagine if we were together for a much longer time and prepare properly, then the sky would have been the limit."
John gave the assurance he will try everything in his power to keep the team together, saying the players were willing to die for the cause.
Stern calls for continuity with youth team.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
T&T U17s coach applauds team effort but –
STERN JOHN, coach of the T&T men’s Under-17 football team, has called for the squad to be kept together as they progress to the Under-20 level.
John, the ex-national team striker, was speaking after the team’s exit from the Concacaf Under-17 Championship on Wednesday, following a 4-1 beating by Honduras in their Round of 16 encounter at the IMG Academy, Bradenton, Florida, United States.
Jeffry Miranda scored a hat-trick for Honduras, with items in the 46th, 76th and 88th minutes, while Jose Aguilera got the other strike, in the 61st. Jaiye Sheppard got T&T’s lone goal, in the 57th.
“We didn’t find our rhythm (on Wednesday) and, in the end, Honduras pulled away from us,” said John. “I thought we weathered the storm in the first half and it was evenly matched. After they went ahead we got ourselves back in the game with the equaliser, but we didn’t get any time to really build on that because they grabbed the lead again a few minutes after.”
In the group stage, T&T defeated both Bermuda (3-1) and Jamaica (3-2) but fell to a 5-0 defeat by Mexico.
“All in all, it was disappointing but I have to give my players credit for coming here and winning two out of four matches,” said John, the T&T men’s team assistant coach. “We managed to qualify for the second round. The last two games were big learning experiences against top Concacaf teams and generally we showed what we are capable of.
“We came here and beat Jamaica in a competition, something that we haven’t done in sometime, at any level and that was a good sign for us,” John continued. “That was fantastic in terms of bragging rights but for me, I think we have to start looking beyond teams like Jamaica.
“I think now we have to build on this. Hopefully we’ll find a way to keep the boys together and have them working for the next set of qualifiers which will be at the under 20 level and hopefully some of the boys from here will continue to develop and move on to teams at a higher level outside of Trinidad and Tobago and also back home,” John added.
In other round of 16 matches on Wednesday, El Salvador and Mexico each registered 2-1 victories over Jamaica and Puerto Rico respectively, while Haiti whipped Dominican Republic 2-0.
Yesterday, Panama eliminated Guatemala 2-0 and Canada spanked Curacao 4-0.
The quarter-finals will be contested on Sunday, with the semi-finals on Tuesday and the final set for May 16.
The semi-finalists will advance to the 2019 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Brazil.