National Under-17 captain Duane Muckette says his team is ready to take on the rest of CONCACAF in two weeks' time when they attempt to qualify for the 2011 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Mexico.
Mukette, of 1st Santa Rosa FC, and his teammates are in training at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, and will travel to face Barbados in a friendly on February 6.
Their first match in the CONCACAF Final Round is against hosts Jamaica on February 13 and Guatemala two days later in Montego Bay.
"It's a lot of hard work and dedication but we're ready for the tournament. I think everyday we are getting stronger," Muckette told Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) media officer Shaun Fuentes yesterday.
"We know Jamaica will play a physical game so we are working on being able to play them man to man and win our individual battles. And Guatemala brings a more Central American style which we are preparing for.
All the players know how serious this challenge next month is, but we are focusing on bringing our best performance on the day," he said.
Muckette added he was aware of the success of the Anton Corneal-coached team in qualifying for the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in South Korea. They got there by way of a 1-0 win over Jamaica through a goal by Kevin Molino.
"I can't remember the results but I know they did well and were able to qualify. Hopefully, we can match that by qualifying and go on to do even better.
I know it's not going to be an easy road but we're working hard everyday. We're talking everyday and the coaches have been working with us.
All I want is for all of us as players to give it our best shot and represent the country well and hopefully make it to another World Cup," Mukette concluded.
Head coach Shawn Cooper is expected to name his final squad next week after evaluating his players in training and a recent training camp in Colombia where the team participated in the "Tournament of the Americas".
Local fans will get a look at the U-17 players when they take on the T&T Under-20s in a warm-up on February 4 from 4 p.m. in the first game of a double-header which includes the TTFF FA Trophy Final at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya between DirecTV North East Stars and bmobile San Juan Jabloteh.
Jamaica have returned home from a training camp in Brazil where they played ten training matches, losing five, winning three and drawing two. And head coach Wendell Downswell seems to be pleased with their readiness.