There will be no Christmas for this country’s Under-20 Women footballers, preparing for the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, January 18-28 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Balmain Couva.

National coach Jamaal Shabazz said he expects a formidable group when the overseas based players join the locals at a live-in camp from today, but his major concern will be to get adequate international friendly matches to fine tune. Yesterday Shabazz, who has taken over the coaching duties of the team from Italian Carolina Morace and her staff, told Guardian Media Sports he already has an idea of the strength the overseas based players will come with.

“I also know what our local players have to offer, so when I put them both together it will be nothing short of a formidable group of players,” Shabazz explained. The players are expected to be sent home only for Christmas day but will be required to return to the camp on Boxing day.

According to Shabazz, “While everyone will be enjoying the Christmas season, we will be hard at work. Christmas for these players must include a football at their side because we will be entering competition soon after.”

The Under-20s who were beaten by their senior counterparts last Friday, will contest Group A of the Championship along with Costa Rica, Canada and Haiti, while Group B comprises giants United States, Mexico, Jamaica and Nicaragua.

The Soca Princesses will begin their campaign against the Haitians on the opening day, before taking on Canada two days later. Their last match will be against Costa Rica on January 22. The top three teams to emerge from the play-offs will earn automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Shabazz said he is waiting to see if his team will get the opportunity to warm-up against adequate opposition. Only last month the team prevailed over regional rivals Jamaica 1-0 in two matches at the Ato Boldon and then at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

Yesterday the names of the squad’s 35 players were submitted to the Concacaf ahead of the tournament.