Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 17 Men’s Team will be seeking their second consecutive win in Group A of the CONCACAF Under 17 Men’s Championship when they face Jamaica at the IMG Academy on Friday from 4pm.
Team skipper Zachary Welch noted that the mood in the T&T camp was upbeat but cautious after the 3-1 victory over Bermuda on Wednesday and he expects his teammates to be raring for the clash with the Reggae Boyz. Welch and four of his current teammates were part of the T&T Under 15 team which suffered an 8-1 loss to Jamaica in the CONCACAF Under 15 championship at IMG in 2017.
Jamaica lost their opening match 1-0 to Mexico on Wednesday leaving T&T atop Group A with three points ahead of Mexico on goal difference.
“We know Jamaica is a tough opponent but the mood in the camp is we know we can get a result and compete with them,” Welch told TTFA Media on Thursday.
“ Everyone’s mentality is positive and all we expect is three points. We know we have to be sharper and quicker than the last game as it will be a greater challenge. We will be expecting a next three points once we show our quality as a team to overcome Jamaica,” he added.
Reflecting on the win which his parents David and Stacey along with a few other parents witnessed at the venue, Welch said the players knew how critical it was to start the campaign with a win.
“We all knew yesterday was going to be a challenge for everyone and to know that all the work we put in as a team in preparation for the tournament is starting to pay off felt good. This meant a lot to the staff and the players as it can only be used as a starting point and is only encouraging us for the next game to bring home three points again.
“The three points vital as to get through to the next round it we needed to win at least one game if everything else goes to plan and as we got the three points yesterday it shows to everyone we can compete in the tournament .
“The key factors for the match was that we never game up and ran till the end of the game and most importantly we were clinical in front of goal which lead us to victory,” Welch added.
Fifteen-year old Curtis De Leon who was a second half substitute also spoke about the team’s showing which included solid performances from other players including forward Justin Araujo-Wilson who netted a double and defender Cephas St Rose who was also part of the previous Under 15 team two years ago.
“This is just the beginning but it was very exciting to get our first win. The entire group worked hard for the win . It felt really good to have an impact on the game. I am happy and proud to be representing Trinidad and Tobago, where both my parents were born and I feel like I’ve fitted right into the setup,” De Leon told TTFA Media.
“Our attitude going into the game was very good and the desire to fight for each other and win is what really led to the end performance.
De Leon spoke of his involvement with the David Nakhid International Academy of which he is a member and played at the Madrid Cup, scoring the winner in the Under 16 final in Madrid two weeks ago.
“I think coach David Nakhid and the academy has helped my game develop by teaching me different things about the game and giving me the opportunity to play in a competition against good quality teams to prepare me for this tournament at IMG,” De Leon added.
Head Coach Stern John’s Comments.
It’s a critical win for us because we knew this game was one we need to pick up points to put ourselves in a good position to advance to the next stage.
“But we made hard work of it at the end. I said before the game that the key for us would be settling early and the goal by Justin helped but we should have done better in the second half to take the game away from them. We kept them in it and they didn’t lie down. Credit to them for pushing us. Then young De Gannes came on to get a third goal for us and sow up the victory.
“I think we needed to be a bit more disciplined and keep the ball a bit better but I was pleased with the way we transitioned into attack and created chances. Justin took his two goals well and should have had a third and then Andrew took his goal very well. It’s just the first win and there’s much more to do here so we’ll recover for this and get ready for Jamaica on Friday.”