Action from the Caribbean under-20 qualifier between St. Kitts & Nevis (white jersey) and Antigua & Barbuda on October 23, 2016, in Willemstad, Curacao. (Photo: David Heykoop)
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – St. Kitts & Nevis’ only previous participation in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship came in 2007, the last of five straight editions in which no champion was crowned.
The Sugar Boyz performed admirably, posting a 0W-1D-2L record, scoring three goals and conceding six. Closely-contested losses to Mexico (0-2) and Costa Rica (2-3) were followed by a 1-1 draw with regional-rival Jamaica.
In October, SKN earned a place in the 2017 version of the competition by finishing as the best of two third-place team from the final round of Caribbean qualifying.
The excitement of that achievement was heightened Tuesday, when the official draw was conducted in Costa Rica, the host nation. After all the balls were pulled from the bowls, St. Kitts & Nevis learned that it will face the Haiti (February 18), Panama (February 21) and the United States (February 24) in Group B.
Technical director Lenny Lake expressed his delight at SKN’s return to the CONCACAF, but is fully cognizant of the challenges ahead.
“First, let me say thanks to God for a wonderful opportunity like this,” Lake told CONCACAF.com. “I am quite excited about up the upcoming tournament as it presents to us, the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, an opportunity, experience and exposure.
“We have an opportunity to play against some of the top football countries in this region and for me that is priceless. This is an opportunity for our young players to measure their efforts and talents against the talented players of these countries. Finally, gaining an experience that will be a lifelong memory to the players, coaches and our country.”
Lake wants the side to focus on playing to its maximum at all times and make its mark in the confederation.
“For me, to say win the competition will be highly improbable,” he commented. “Even though it is possible to win it, we are realistic. After taking all the factors into account, I would say that our goals for now are to compete to best of our abilities, to proudly represent our country, to enjoy and learn from this experience and finally to humbly accept the outcomes.”
With such a talented young group, the CONCACAF event represents an opportunity for SKN to take the next development step.
“We are growing at all levels and building our reputation is a key aim for us here,” finished Lake. “We are hoping to entertain the region and the world with our talent on the pitch.”