Tue, Jun

STEPHEN DE LAS, a recent trialist at English Premiership club Birmingham City, is among three players added to the national Under-17 football squad, in preparation for CONCACAF home-and-away second round qualifying matches against Cuba on November 19 and 25.

De Las, of St Benedict’s College, as well as Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive goalkeeper Nigel Thomas and Jevon Morton of Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive are the three newcomers in the team, who will also play two matches against Venezuela’s Under-17 team on November 5 and 7, in readiness for the matches versus Cuba.

The national Under-20 team will also play against the Venezuela Under-20 side on the same dates.

Jamaica will meet Haiti in the other Under-17 home-and-away second round qualifier.

The 21-man Under-17 T&T footballers are expected to start attending two-day weekend camps from today, under national coach Nigel “Grovey” Grovesnor.

As a result, all the players in the squad have been barred from weekend play for their respective schools in the current British Gas Secondary Schools Football League.

Contacted yesterday, Grovesnor said: “The guys will only miss matches on Saturday for now and, once their teams reach a final or have an important match to play in the SSFL, we will allow them to represent their teams.”

Some of the teams to be hit by the decision are St Anthony’s College, St Augustine Senior Comprehensive, Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive, St Benedict’s College and Mayaro Composite.

The “Westmoorings Tigers” will be without the services coach Grovesnor and three Under-17 national team players for today’s match against St Mary’s College as leading scorer Lester “Corn Curls” Peltier, Brendan Boucaud and Kevin Mussio will not be permitted to play while the “Saints duo of Kyle Mc Ivor and Qian Grovesnor, son of the national coach, are will also be out, because of the national team’s camp.

In the same way, the “Green Machine” of St Augustine will be without top scorer Shastri “Doubles” Spencer; Mucurapo will miss goalkeeper Nigel Thomas and Khaleem Highland; St Benedict’s will be minus Silas Spann and De Las; while Mayaro must do without top striker Carlon Hughes.

The T&T Under-17 team advanced to the second round home-and-away series with Cuba by finishing at the top of CONCACAF’s Caribbean Football Union Zone’s Group “A” first round qualifiers involving St Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas.

In that four-team Group “A” series, T&T scored comfortable wins over St Lucia (8-1), Barbados (6-2)and the Bahamas (14-1).

The winners of the T&T/Cuba and Jamaica/Haiti pairings will be the two CFU representatives in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, to be held in New Brunswick (Canada) and Costa Rica in May.

The two group winners will then automatically qualify for the 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championships in Peru, while the group runners-up will contest a home-and-away play-off for the third CONCACAF berth for the world series final in Peru.

T&T players in camp:

Kareem Charles (Tranquillity Gov’t Sec.), Khaleem Highland (Mucurapo SC), Brendon Boucaud (St Anthony’s College), Marvin James (Fatima College), Silas Spann (St Benedict’s College), Shastri Spencer (St Augustine SC), Michael Brown (San Juan SC), Nyron Orr (Roxborough Composite), Javed Mohammed (Naparima College), Lester Peltier (St Anthony’s College), Carlon Hughes (Mayaro Composite), Kevin Mussio (St Anthony’s College), Kyle Mc Ivor (St Mary’s College), Qian Grovesnor (St Mary’s College), Kerron Ross (Malick SC), Kerden Fergusson (Mason Hall Gov’t), Kurt Williams (Vessigny High), Jerome William (Scarborough Sec), Jevon Morton (Scarborough Sec.), Nigel Thomas (Mucurapo SC), Stephen De Las (St Benendict’s College).