A 20-man T&T U-17 team, captained by Presentation College of San Fernando’s Kareem Riley and including five players from recently crowned SSFL Premier Division champion school, Naparima College, will arrive in Haiti tomorrow where the players will challenge the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) U-17 Championship starting with another meeting against St Lucia on Sunday.
Just over a month ago, the team, coached by Shawn Cooper topped its qualifying group for the CFU main event in St Lucia, by defeating the host nation (3-2) as well as Grenada and Curacao (both 2-0). The tournament was originally carded to start on September 27 but was postponed for three weeks to accommodate the CFU senior men’s qualifying event.
The final squad was made public yesterday by the T&T Football Association (TTFA) at a media briefing at its office located at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain.
Among the players coming off a victorious campaign with Naparima are: Enrique Changiah, Levi Fernandez, Kierron Mason, Shobel Celestin and 14-year-old Isaiah Hudson, one of only two players (John-Paul Rochford the other) born in the year 2000.
Speaking yesterday, Cooper said he was comfortable with the players in his squad: “We have a balanced team which I think is ready for the challenge ahead.
“We had a break since the last tournament in St Lucia and we had the guys going back to play in the Secondary Schools Football League. But we kept the preparations going and we’ve done the best that we can to prepare at this stage. You can do all the preparation possible and still fail on the day if you don’t execute as we’ve seen teams with much more resources than us fail to qualify for World Cups in the past.”
T&T will face St Lucia in the first match on Sunday from 5 pm, then Barbados two days later at the same time. In the final Group A match, T&T will meet the host nation, Haiti, from 7.30pm on Thursday. Group B features Guadeloupe, Martinique, Cuba and Jamaica.
T&T will be seeking to top the group as that feat will assure it, along with the top team in Group B, an automatic spot at February’s Concacaf Under-17 Championship, which will be staged in Honduras. The best second placed finisher from the two groups will also advance to the final round of Concacaf’s World Cup qualifiers directly. At the Concacaf Championship, the four best teams will qualify for the Fifa Under-17 World Cup 2015, in Chile.
Enrique Changiah, Levi Fernandez, Isaiah Hudson, Kierron Mason, Shobal Celestin (Naparima College), Darnell Hospedales, Shirwin Noel, Kareem Riley, Keston Julien, Nate Brooks (Presentation College), Travell Edwards, Tekay Hoyce (East Mucurapo), Kendell Charles, Dareem Daniel (Trinity East), Sharkell Louison (Moruga Secondary), Jeankeon Alexander (San Juan North), Matthaeus Grander (St Anthony’s College), John-Paul Rochford (Queen’s Royal College), John-Michael Herrera (Fatima College), Anthony Herbert (St Benedict’s).