Trinidad and Tobago’s National Under 17 footballers will begin their quest for a place at the next FIFA Under 17 World Championship with a first match clash with hosts Mexico at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana on Wednesday from 4pm (7pm TT Time).
View Corneal's and Britto's comments
Team manager Christo Gouveia said the team had settled in and everything was on stream ahead of the match
“We’ve had two training session so far. We trained at the match stadium this morning and the session was pretty decent. The guys seem ready and energized during the sessions which is a good sign going into the match,” Gouveia told TTFF Media on the eve of the match
The full squad was completed by the arrival of Toronto FC midfielder Ryan Mcleod who had been at the Dallas Cup with the Canadian-based club.
Head coach Anton Corneal said he was wary of the fact that his team’s first match opponents were the hosts and were eager to do well after failing to qualify for the 2007 FIFA Under 17 World Championship in South Korea.
“The whole atmosphere is right going into a tournament like this. We know it’s not going to be easy playing the first game against Mexico in Mexico but we are prepared for such an encounter.
“It’s going to be tough but we plan to be very discipline especially in defence. I’m pretty much confident that our fitness and our hunger for results can make it very possible for us to get a positive result. But we don’t expect Mexico to roll over especially looking back at the campaign the last time around and then the Under 20 results last time. Once we take responsibility and stay in the game for as long as possible, I think we can get something from it,” Corneal told TTFF Media on Tuesday.
Playing in what is expected to be a passionate Mexican crowd at the Estadio Caliente, Corneal said his players have been advised on how to face the hosts.
“It’s eleven v eleven and one v one all over the field. It’s not about who sits in the stands or how hostile the atmosphere is. It’s going to come down to how well we cope and stay in the game for the 90 minutes and more,” Corneal said.
Skipper Jerrel Britto, one of the scorers in T&T’s 2-0 win over FC Tauro’s U-20 team in Panama on Saturday, is hoping that T&T’s extra pace can create problems for the opponents this week. T&T face Costa Rica and Guatemala in the remaining group clashes later this week.
“We have prepared well and we have studied Mexico more than any other team. We know our key going into this tournament is our speed and that is what we will try to use to get the better of this team. The coaches have spoken to me and knowing that I have the most experience on the team, it’s important that I can lead them the right way out there on the pitch. We are all looking forward to taking the field and getting on with the matches. Our aim is to win every match,” Britto added.
The CONCACAF Under-17 Championship started on with a doubleheader featuring Honduras against Canada, and Caribbean champion Cuba facing the United States as they seek a spot at the FIFA Under 17 World Championship in Nigeria in October this year.
The United States is the only country to have qualified for every U-17 World Cup since FIFA initiated the tournament in 1985, finishing as high as fourth in 1999.
Mexico enters unbeaten in its last 10 games in the tournament, although after winning the World Cup title in 2005, it failed to qualify two years ago. Mexico is going into the tournament with virtually an entirely professional side and Honduras, which won its three-team qualifying group in Central America without allowing a goal, will be led by Anthony Lozano of Olimpia, who played for his country at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Trinidad in March.