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Former T&T winger Leonson Lewis is expecting the national Under-17 men’s team to perform creditably at the upcoming Concacaf final round of U-17 World Cup qualifiers in Panama City and is optimistic of T&T sneaking into the semifinal round.

If T&T can progress beyond the opening three-team group phase and then win its quarterfinal clash, it will be among the four countries from Concacaf appearing at the 2013 Fifa U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. T&T faces Canada on April 6 and Costa Rica two days later. The top two teams advance to the quarterfinals.

Lewis is one of the assistant coaches on the U-17 team alongside fellow assistant Terrance Marcelle. Shawn Cooper is the head coach.

Lewis has been working with the team for several months and is one of the local coaches who have been part of the TTFF Coach Education Programmes overseen by technical director Anton Corneal and his group of local coach instructors.

Lewis says on a daily basis he tries to pass on his knowledge and experience as a player for the national team to upcoming ones.

“They will be a nervous bunch at this time because they are young and it’s the first time they will be going into a qualifying tournament like this one. I was there at one stage and I know how it feels,” Lewis said.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for them you are only going to be under 17 once. I try to get into their minds how they should think, and we, to prepare them as best we can for the tournament coming up in Panama.”

Commenting on his tenure as a coach, having completed a professional career that saw him campaign for several years at the highest level in Portugal, Lewis said he’s enjoying the experience thus far even though it may have some challenging moments.

“It’s been a learning experience. I’m now getting introduced to a lot of different training methods and the way that we prepare youngsters for a tournament like this. It’s been a really good learning process for me and I’m really impressed by Anton (Corneal) and his coaching tactics as well.

We just want to see how good the work we are doing holds out with these boys because we are a really at a disadvantage when it comes to the preparations of the other teams.

We are really a third world country when it comes to preparations as compared to a lot of the other countries. But we’re doing our best with the resources and opportunities that are there and keenly awaiting the chance to see where we’ve gotten to,” Lewis ended.