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T&T preps for CFU world qualifiers
T&T Under-17 head coach Shawn Cooper is currently overseeing preparation of the his team’s participation at next month’s start of the Caribbean Football Union’s (CFU) leg of Fifa Under-17 World Cup qualification.
Cooper, who guided this country within one win from qualifying for the 2013 Fifa Under-17 World Cup, has a squad of 40 players in training which continues next week at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. The majority of players are those from the Under-15 national team, which participated at the Tournament of the Americas in Cali, Colombia, last year. Cooper has also added several other players from the Youth Pro League .
“We started earlier this month at the Queen’s Park Savannah because the stadiums were not available but we’ll back to training at Ato Boldon from next week,” Cooper said.
“So far we’ve looked at several players from the TT Youth Pro League and we continue to look at the available talent. The majority of the squad have been together at the national level before and the experience of the last Under-15 team in Colombia should serve some good as we look ahead to the next tournament in July,” Cooper added.
His main concern, however, is the fitness level of the players.
“Technically we are pretty okay but we are lacking physical and tactical awareness. I had hoped that these players would be fitter at this time of the year. Football now is year round. There are some skillful players in the mix and some good, strong defenders and midfielders but we now have to get them playing as a unit as quickly as we can I think that a few more solid sessions should have us in a decent enough position for the first round.”
The 2015 FIFA Under 17 Men’s World Cup will be held in Chile. Twenty-four teams will take part including four from Concacaf.
Twenty teams will compete in this first round of the qualifiers with Bahamas hosting Bermuda, Martinique and Puerto Rico. The additional top two teams in the draw, Haiti and Jamaica, have receive first round byes directly to the final CFU round, hosted in Haiti.
Other opening round hosts at the group stage include Guadeloupe, Dominica and Cuba while the CFU is set to announce the hosts for the T&T group soon.