T&T Under-20 footballers will put their Caribbean Football Union crown on the line when they come up against Antigua & Barbuda in the first match of a semifinal double-header at the Ergilio Hato Stadium, Willemstad, Curacao tonight from 5pm. In the second semifinal, Haiti comes up against Bermuda.
Third placed match and final are set for the same venue on Sunday with all four teams already assured of places in the 12-team Concacaf Final Round qualifiers in Costa Rica next February.
The young Soca Warriors earned a spot in San Jose next year prior to taking the field against Haiti in their top of the table clash, when Cuba and St Lucia played to a 1-1 draw to earn their second and first point of the competition respectively.
This meant that, Haiti with maximum points and T&T (four) were certain of qualification, all that was left was to determine the semifinal match-ups from their meeting.
In the end, T&T and Haiti played to a 0-0 draw, with Haiti topping the group on seven points followed by T&T, two points behind as both remained unbeaten.
T&T was also held goalless by Cuba before beating St Lucia 4-0 while Antigua & Barbuda will also enter this afternoon’s match unbeaten after topping Pool A with seven points following wins over Curacao (1-0) and Antigua & Barbuda (3-2), and a 2-2 draw with St Kitts/Nevis.
The Haitians whipped St Lucia 5-1 and edged Cuba, 2-1 in their other matches, while Bermuda took second on goal-difference ahead of St Kitts/Nevis after a 3-1 win in their meeting and 1-1 draw with Curacao. St Kitts/Nevis outplayed Curacao 3-1 in its other encounter.
Speaking after Wednesday’s match, T&T coach Brian Williams paid credit to his players and staff.
“We came here with one ambition which was to get out of the group and secure our place in the Concacaf phase. And I must tip my hat to the members.
“We played unbeaten in three games here and we are yet to lose in the qualifiers. I think that is something we can feel good about. We are not going to get carried away because we still have a semi-final game to play and a chance to defend our title in the Caribbean. And then there’s the best of Concacaf for us to go up against next year in Costa Rica,” he added.
“It has been a strenuous journey and now that we have accomplished our first goal, we will take the rest of this competition in stride and begin planning for the next phase and preparing for what will be another very tough tournament in Costa Rica,” Williams added.
T&T will join eleven other nations in Costa Rica from February 17 to March 5.
They include hosts Costa Rica, Canada, Mexico, USA, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Bermuda, Antigua/Barbuda, Haiti and CFU fifth placed team St Kitts/Nevis.