T&T U20s open camp, target World Cup return

Trinidad & Tobago players (white jersey) shakes hands with counterparts from St. Lucia prior to a Caribbean under-20 qualifier in Willemstad, Curacao, on October 24, 2016. (Photo: David Heykoop)

COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago – In the FIFA U-20 World Cup’s 40-year history, Trinidad & Tobago has competed in the event twice: 1990 and 2009.

If they are to book a third trip, though, the Soca Warriors will need to finish either first or second in one of the two classification round groups at the 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, which will be played February 17-March 5 in Costa Rica.

In order to give his team the best opportunity to make that objective a reality, head coach Brian Williams opened Monday a 10-day training camp at Ato Boldon Stadium.

“We started the training camp today and I am indeed happy that we’ve been able to come together for this period to start the year off,” Williams told TTFA Media. “But, more importantly, have the opportunity to continue the team bonding process and also pay closer attention to some specifics and evaluate the players before we come down to our final selection for the competition.

“I am pleased with the progress we’ve made but it will be important for us to get in a couple good training matches before we head into the tournament in Costa Rica.”

T&T secured a berth for the CONCACAF event by finishing fourth in Caribbean qualifying last year. Over the course of first round and finals play, it posted an overall record of 3W-5D-1L, as Nicholas Dillon lead the way with eight goals.

Bermuda, which posted a 2-1 win over Trinidad in the Caribbean match for third place, will be T&T’s opening opponent at the CONCACAF event on February 19, with host Costa Rica (Feb. 22) and El Salvador (Feb. 25) to follow.

The trio will undoubtedly make for a difficult mountain to scale, but Williams is confident in his squad.

“It is important for us to do well in this competition and hopefully qualify for a third under 20 World Cup because the experience and the exposure for the players is crucial for our football program ahead, especially leading into the national senior team,” he finished. “We have been emphasizing this to the players and I think they have it in their minds that this period coming up is one where they must make the necessary sacrifices and put their best foot forward for the country and for themselves.”