Aruba's Niels Ridderstap (yellow jersey) in action against Guatemala at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Photo: Mexsport)
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – After an 8-0 loss to the United States on January 14, Aruba (0-0-4, 0 points) had three full days of training ahead of its next encounter in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship
Obviously, that was time well spent as the Arubans fell only 2-0 to unbeaten Guatemala on Sunday. Despite a fourth straight setback in as many outings, it was clearly their best performance of the competition. The numbers alone support that assertion as Aruba had conceded at least four goals in each of its previous outings.
“I think it was a better performance than the last three matches,” expressed head coach Arent Bekhof. “My players make (improvement) step-by-step.”
Bekhof was appointed to the post only a week before the start of the competition, so he had little time to instill his own style of play. The extra days off in Jamaica, however, allowed him to work more closely with a squad that finished fourth in the 2014 Caribbean Under-20 Championship, qualifying it for the CONCACAF event.
“Every day at the pitch I did some exercises to make them clear what is my opinion about football,” remarked Bekhof, a native of the Netherlands. “I have only five or six days, so it’s quite short, but I’m glad they do what I taught them.
“We did it in theory. We did it in practice, practice, practice, practice. We’ve come on.”
When asked if the players had any questions during the recent training sessions, Bekhof smiled and said pragmatically, ”Mostly they only listen and that’s also the problem. They have to design their own way. They have to make their own decisions.”
With the experience gained at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship and gleaned from Bekhof’s abundant knowledge, there can be little doubt that those same competitors will continue to put this new education to very good use.
Aruba will complete its tournament schedule against host Jamaica (0-1-3, 1 point) on Wednesday (8:00 p.m. ET) at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.