The Trinidad & Tobago under-20 national team (pictured) trains ahead of its opening match in 2016 Caribbean qualifying against visiting Guadeloupe on June 15, 2016. (Photo: TTFA Media)
COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – Caribbean qualifying for the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship kicks off Wednesday with three of the four first-round groups seeing action.
Play will open in Groups 1, 2 and 4 will take place in Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Couva, Trinidad & Tobago; and San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, respectively.
The Trinidadians will open against Guadeloupe at Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva and head coach Brian Williams – a former T&T international – can’t wait to get started.
“We have had two months of good preparations and I am happy with our progress,” said Williams. “Of course, the first game of a tournament is always the most important, but can also be a bit tricky as this will be the first international game at this level for several of our players.
“But other than that, I expect we will try to settle early and play our game which will be to go on the offensive and take the game to the opponents. We will not back down for any challenges.”
Guadeloupe manager Moise Castry is equally as eager and promised that his side will test the host, stating: “We have come here to qualify out of the group. We have a team that is hungry for success and we have prepared well. We have been preparing for four months and we have four players in the team that have come from France two weeks ago. We don’t intend to make it easy for Trinidad and Tobago.”
The competition will be contested between 17 teams, with the four, first-round group winners, plus the three best runners-up, joining host Curacao in October's final round.
The 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship will have a field of twelve teams; Costa Rica as host; three from Central America, five from the Caribbean and three from North America.
2016 CARIBBEAN FOOTBALL UNION UNDER-20 QUALIFYING
June 15 – October 30, 2016
GROUP 1 (Raoul Illidge Sports Complex – Philipsburg, St. Maarten)
June 15, 2016: Cuba v Antigua & Barbuda; St. Maarten v Puerto Rico
June 17, 2016: Puerto Rico v Cuba; Antigua & Barbuda v St. Maarten
June 19, 2016: Antigua & Barbuda v Puerto Rico; St. Maarten v Cuba
GROUP 2 (Ato Boldon Stadium – Couva, Trinidad & Tobago)
June 15, 2016: St. Lucia v Turks & Caicos Islands; Trinidad & Tobago v Guadeloupe
June 17, 2016: St. Lucia v Guadeloupe; Trinidad & Tobago v Turks & Caicos Islands
June 19, 2016: Guadeloupe v Turks & Caicos Islands; Trinidad & Tobago v St. Lucia
GROUP 3 (Host: Haiti)
Teams: Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Haiti
GROUP 4 (Estadio Panamericano – San Cristobal, Dominican Republic)
June 15, 2016: Jamaica v Dominica; Dominican Republic v St. Kitts & Nevis
June 17, 2016: Jamaica v St. Kitts & Nevis; Dominican Republic v Dominica
June 19, 2016: St. Kitts & Nevis v Dominica; Dominican Republic v Jamaica