St. Kitts & Nevis (pictured) is one of 12 teams playing in the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Photo:St. Kitts & Nevis Football Association)
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts & Nevis -- For the first time since 2007, St. Kitts & Nevis U-20 will be competing in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, when it opens Group B play in the 2017 edition on Saturday against Haiti in Costa Rica.
As evidenced by particular attention to detail, the Sugar Boyz are serious about making an impression
Lenny Lake, the team’s technical director, brought on support staff -- with proven experience in helping other nations qualify for youth-level World Cups -- to assist with the pre-tournament preparations.
“We sought the services of Leonel Flores out of Honduras, who is a physical trainer, and he had success in taking a Honduras U-17 team to the World Cup in 2013 and 2015, in terms of physical preparedness. He is making sure the players are physically ready,” said Lake. “In addition, we obtained the services of coach Gary Stempel, who took the Panama U20s to the World Cup in 2003. He is here with us until we leave for the tournament in Costa Rica.
“We feel having these individuals breeds a winning mentality in camp and it can spur us to great things, so I believe this will be key as we prepare. Gary and Leonel have certainly given the team a boost in exuberance and I am hoping they will carry that throughout the tournament.”
In addition to Haiti, St. Kitts & Nevis will also face Panama (February 21) and the United States (February 24). Lake says that a high level of positivity has developed in the camp and that making history remains the objective.
“If you look back our campaign in the qualifiers, it was a 2-0 victory over Jamaica that started the momentum for us,” he finished. That is a team (Jamaica) with pedigree in the region and has qualified for youth world cups. It is true we have a tough group, however, if we can perform at the best of our abilities then anything is possible with this team. Reaching the World Cup in South Korea is our goal and that is exactly what we are pushing towards.”