Trinidad and Tobago’s Men’s Under 20 team will commence its final competition in the quest to qualify for the 2017 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in South Korea with a contest against Cuba on Saturday night from 8:15pm at the Ergilio Hato stadium in Willemstad, Curacao.
T&T’s match will be the second of a double header with fellow Group B opponents Haiti and St Lucia meeting in the earlier encounter.
The T&T team arrived in Curacao from Panama on Thursday following a training camp in the Central American destination. And now the team, under head coach Brian Williams is set to engage the Cubans.
“We are as ready as can be at this stage,” Williams told TTFA Media.
“We knew for some time now that Cuba would be our opening game and we have prepared with that in mind. I am pretty pleased with the way the team responded in Panama, there was a nice bonding period and the guys worked very hard on the training pitch. Now it is their time to go out and show it on the field,” he added.
“Cuba as we know are tricky opponents. We saw how well they looked in the Under 17 series last month in Trinidad and I expect they will have a similar kind of approach at this level. We will need to prevent them from getting on top of us and we must in fact try to steady our game and get ourselves ahead as early as possible, meaning too that we need to settle early and control the match. We need to narrow down on our errors and stay compact for the entire match and of course take advantage of our strengths in the attacking third and finish the chances,” Williams added.
The team was joined by North American-based duo Jacob Sooklal and Jarred Dass in Curacao while US-based Andrew Rullow is scheduled to arrive in Curacao on Saturday afternoon. There will be a 23-man squad in Curacao but CFU tournament rules state only 20 players can be registered to play. Therefore, the three players that will not be in the final 20 include Moses Jaikeran, Rondell Payne and Sooklal, who according to team manager Dunstan Williams, was out for the past seven days after suffering a mild concussion on the field while playing for his College team in Ontario, Canada.
On the overall team ranking list of CONCACAF Under 20 qualifying action, which also include games played at the CFU competition, T&T stands in 8th position with a total of 65 points from 74 matches, while Cuba are tenth with 53 points from 53 matches. Mexico (219 pts from 116 matches), United States (169 pts from 107), Honduras (12 its from 82), Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador hold the top seven positions in that order.
Cuba, which qualified for the 2013 FIFA Under 20 World Cup, finished second in their CFU First round group behind Antigua/Barbuda and qualified for the final round as one of the best three second placed teams alongside St Lucia and Bermuda.
T&T, the CFU defending champions, have been grouped with previous runners up Haiti, Cuba and St Lucia in Group B of this year’s CFU Finals.
Following their opening game with Cuba, T&T then faces St Lucia on October 24th and Haiti on October 26th.
Group A comprises of hosts Curacao, Bermuda, St Kitts/Nevis and Antigua/Barbuda.
The top two teams will advance to the semi finals as well as gain automatic passage to the CONCACAF Final round which will be played in Costa Rica in February. The semi-finals will be played on October 28th and the final and third place match will take place on October 30th. The top five teams from the CFU Final round will advance to the CONCACAF stage.
Trinidad and Tobago 20-man squad
Jabari Brice (GK) – St. Anthony’s College
Denzil Smith (GK)- Shiva Boys Hindu College
Taryk Sampson – Defender – Ma Pau Stars
Keirron Mason – Defender – Marabella Crisis Center
Kori Cupid- Defender- Presentation College, San Fernando
Isaiah Garcia- Defender- W- Connection FC
Keston Julien- Defender – Jabloteh FC
Andrew Rullow – Defender – University of Charleston
Noah Powder – Defender – New York Red Bulls II
Jabari Mitchell – Midfielder – W-Connection FC
Morgan Bruce De Rouche – Midfielder –KRC Genk
Kareem Riley – Midfielder- Presentation College, San Fernando
Shane Sandy – Midfielder – Naparima College.
Micah Lansiquot –Midfielder – Mucurapo East Secondary
Nicholas Dillon – Forward – Central FC
Taofik Lucas Walker – Forward – DC United
Jarred Dass- Forward – Stony Brook University
Isaiah Hudson – Forward- Naparima College
Kathon St. Hillaire- Forward- St. Anthony’s College
Josh Toussaint- Forward – St. Ann’s Rangers