Trinidad & Tobago's Shane Sandy (#12) looks to make a pass against visiting Guadeloupe in a Caribbean under-20 qualifier on June 15, 2016, in Couva. (Photo: CA-Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – Trinidad & Tobago’s participation in the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup can be counted among the most significant achievements in its football history.
The benefits of that three-game sojourn in Egypt continues to yield benefits today. Many of the current senior squad’s members played in that competition, including defenders Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus and Aubrey David, as well as midfielders Marcus Joseph, Khaleem Hyland and Kevin Molino.
As the Soca Warriors prepare for their 2017 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship campaign against Group C rivals Bermuda (February 19), host Costa Rica (Feb. 22) and El Salvador (Feb. 25), head coach Brian Williams is hoping that they can match the impact of their predecessors.
“It was a very interesting draw in Costa Rica, having the host nation in our group, as well as El Salvador who came second in Central American qualifying and Bermuda, who we lost to in the third-place place playoff in the CFU U-20 final round,” Williams told CONCACAF.com. “However, the tournament is not until February and I feel that is enough time for us to fine tune with our preparation and get match sharpness ahead of the tournament.”
Williams, who attended Tuesday’s draw in San Jose, Costa Rica, is happy with the tournament’s new format. Rather than playing five group games, each team will play three, with the top two teams in each quartet advancing to a classification stage that consists of two groups of three teams. The top two sides from each of those groups will qualify for the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup in India.
“I am more in favour of this new format as it allows more rest time for my players and I feel I will be able to rotate my squad players better so this is a blessing,” said Williams. “This is something good in our favor I feel.”
When Williams looks back at that 2009 T&T team, he sees similarities to his present group, but also realizes there’s much work yet to be done.
“The squad in 2009 was special, however, this squad, is not too far off I feel,” the 55-year-old expressed. “I believe once we can improve on our ball possession and our finishing, then this team can certainly repeat the glory set by the 2009 team. We have the courage, talent and ability to do well, so now we just need to execute on the pitch.”
Just like the Class of 2009.