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U-17s gets Costa Rica, Canada in CONCACAF final round
T&T Under-17 men’s football team has been drawn in Group B of the Concacaf U-17 Championship alongside Costa Rica and Canada towards qualification for the 2013 FIFA Under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
The draw for the 12-team four-group tournament to be held in Panama City from April 6 to 19 was also made in Panama City on Tuesday and will see the young Soca Warriors opening their campaign against Canada on Saturday, April 6 followed by a match against Costa Rica two days later.
At the end of the four round-robin groups, the top two teams from each group will advance to the quarterfinals with the four semifinalists qualifying for the U-17 World Cup.
The T&T squad, coached by Shawn Cooper, qualified for the CONCACAF phase of the competition after topping its Caribbean Football Union (CFU) First Round four-team Group Four round-robin series at home with a maximum nine points from three matches.
They included victories over British Virgin Islands (23–0), Suriname (3–1) and Guyana (2–0) led by Brent Sam’s seven goals, all of which came against BVI, as well as Jabari Mitchell (five), Brendon Creed and Kishun Seecharan, with three apiece.
The other qualifiers from the CFU for the CONCACAF Final Round were Jamaica (Group One), Cuba (Group Two), Haiti (Group Three) and Barbados (Group Five).
Jamaica had victories over Bermuda (5–0) and Antigua & Barbuda (4–0); Cuba swept past Bahamas (6–0), Aruba (7–0) and Puerto Rico (2–0); Haiti outclassed Curacao (4–1), Dominican Republic (3–1) and St Lucia (3–0) and Barbados defeated US Virgin Islands (4–1) and St Kitts/Nevis (3–1).
The other CONCACAF U-17 Final Round groups feature Panama, Barbados and Jamaica in Group A; USA, Guatemala and Haiti in Group C, and Mexico pitted with Honduras and Cuba in Group D.
Last month, the T&T squad through assistance from the Ministry of Sports and SporTT, engaged in a training camp in Costa Rica where they played the host country, losing 2–0.
Canada and Costa Rica also met twice this year with both games drawing 1–1 last month.
Canada, USA and Mexico were automatic qualifiers for the final round while Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala were the top three finishers in the Central American Championship in that order.
Commenting on the groupings, Cooper believes T&T’s chances of advancing are as good as any.
“It’s a situation where we know what the two other countries have to offer,” Cooper told T&TFF Media.
“We had the opportunity to train and play in Costa Rica a couple weeks ago and we got in some valuable match practice. We’ve also played against Canada at this level, most recently in the 2011 competition. It’s not going to be an easy task to get by these two teams but I think with the preparations we are engaged in and the hunger of our boys to do well in this competition gives us a good chance of advancing and going on to take one of the spots for the World Cup in the UAE,” Cooper said.
T&T qualified for the 2007 Under-17 World Cup in South Korea and hosted the 2001 finals.
The 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be the 15th tournament of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. It will be held in the UAE from October 17 to November 8, in all seven emirates.
Twenty-four countries will participate at the finals including the hosts. So far, only the Asian confederation has completed its qualifiers with Iraq, Iran, Uzbekistan and Japan already booking its places.
Concacaf U-17 Championship groups and fixtures:
Group A: Panama, Barbados, Jamaica
Group B: Canada, Costa Rica, T&T
Group C: USA, Guatemala, Haiti
Group D: Mexico, Honduras, Cuba
April 6: T&T vs Canada 6.30 pm; Panama vs Jamaica, 9 pm
April 7: Haiti vs USA, 6.30 pm; Cuba vs Mexico, 9 pm
April 8: Barbados vs Jamaica, 6.30 pm; Costa Rica vs T&T, 9 pm
April 9: Guatemala vs Haiti, 6.30 pm; Honduras vs Cuba, 9 pm
April 10: Canada vs Costa Rica, 6.30 pm; Panama vs Barbados, 9 pm
April 11: USA vs Guatemala, 6.30 pm; Mexico vs Honduras, 9 pm
April 13: A1 vs B2, 6 pm; B1 vs A2, 9 pm
April 14: C1 vs D2, 6 pm; D1 vs C2, 9 pm
A1/B2 vs B1/A2, 6 pm
C1/D2 vs D1/C2, 9 pm
Final & Third place:
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